In 1885, Elizabeth Cochrane read an article titled “What Good Are Girls For?” in the Pittsburgh Gazette.
The article concluded that they weren’t worth much. Cochrane, infuriated, fired off an angry letter to the editor. The editor was impressed by Cochrane’s spirit and her writing ability. Far from being offended, he offered her a job.
At the Gazette, Cochrane began using a pen name that would one day be world famous, Nellie Bly. Cochrane first wrote about Pittsburgh’s poor and then traveled to Mexico, where she described the corruption of the government.
Angered by her harsh criticism, the Mexicans expelled her. Cochrane left Pittsburgh to work for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. For one story, she pretended to be insane in order to be committed to an asylum for ten days. Her writings on the horrible treatment of the insane led to outrage and reform.
On November 14, 1889, Cochrane began her greatest adventure. The Frenchman Jules Verne had written a novel called Around the World in 80 Days. Cochrane decided to go around the world in a shorter amount of time.
Traveling on ships, trains, wagons, rickshas, and sampans, Cochrane circled the globe, returning to New York City 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds after her departure.
She later wrote Around the World in Seventy-two Days, an immensely popular book that won her acclaim.