Jules Verne (1828–1905) was born in Nantes, France, and moved to Paris in 1847, where he briefly studied law and worked as a stockbroker before he turned to writing for the stage. His first published novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863), was a colorful adventure story that proved immensely popular with readers. Verne contracted with its publisher to write three novels per year for serialization in magazines, and the novels produced, known collectively as the Voyages Extraordinaires, are boldly imaginative tales of adventure and daring laced with speculations on developing trends in science and technology. Some, including A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas (1869–1870), are recognized today as early landmarks of science fiction. The serialization of Around the World in Eighty Days (1872) proved so popular that thereafter most of his work appeared simultaneously in French and English translations.
Dr. William Butcher has lectured at the École Nationale d’Administration and researched at the University of Oxford. Author of Jules Verne: The Definitive Biography (2006), he has also published translations and critical editions of Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1992), Around the World in Eighty Days (1995), and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas (1998).