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Following Nellie Bly (Paperback)

Her Record-Breaking Race Around the World

P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > Explorers & Adventurers Women of History

By Rosemary J Brown
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 184
ISBN: 9781399000529
Published: 3rd October 2023



In the press!

An article written by the author for History Hit'10 Facts About Nellie Bly'

'The Girl Puzzle' monument unveiled honoring Nellie Bly in Roosevelt, Manhatten

As featured in the Daily Express: 'Around the world in 72 days!'

As featured in the Islington Gazette'Islington author's book retraces Nellie Bly's voyage around the world in 72 days'


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Intrepid journalist Nellie Bly raced through a ‘man’s world’ — alone and literally with just the clothes on her back — to beat the fictional record set by Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days. She won the race on 25 January 1890, covering 21,740 miles by ocean liner and train in 72 days, and became a global celebrity. Although best known for her record-breaking journey, even more importantly Nellie Bly pioneered investigative journalism and paved the way for women in the newsroom. Throughout her career, Bly’s reportage gave voices to vulnerable people and challenged oppression wherever she found it. Her steadfast conviction that ‘nothing is impossible’ makes the world she circled a better place.

Adventurer, journalist and author, Rosemary J Brown, set off 125 years later to retrace Nellie Bly’s footsteps in an expedition registered with the Royal Geographical Society. Through her recreation of that epic global journey, she brings to life Nellie Bly’s remarkable achievements and shines a light on one of the world's greatest female adventurers and a forgotten heroine of history.

This was a great, quick read. I’ve always been interested in Nellie Bly ever since I had to do a project about her in school. And I feel that her story was somewhat lost to time. It was really cool to read about someone following in her footsteps and learn more about her along the way.

NetGalley, Helen Reid

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Very interesting read! Highly recommend for history buffs out there.

NetGalley, Heather Michael

Nellie Bly is was one of America’s most famous journalists. She has been an icon in popular culture. I have read a few historical novel about Nellie Bly, but not a real nonfiction biography. This biography was very short and comprehensive. It also highlighted Nellie Boy’s accomplishments. Thus, I recommend this for those who do not know much about her story.

NetGalley, Lauralee Jacks

”If I could do it as quickly as Phineas Fogg did, I should go.” Nellie Bly.

Rosemary writes about her trip around the world following in Nellie Bly’s footsteps. Rosemary first learns of Nellie Bly (a famous woman journalist that traveled the world in 72 days from 1889-1890) in 2013. Inspired by Nellie’s experience, Rosemary plans a trip in 2014 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Nellie’s journey. Rosemary makes her trip in 27 days following many of the same routes as her predecessor.

I love memoirs and this was an intriguing one! The book is beautifully written and well researched. I loved getting to know more about Nellie Bly and reading about Rosemary’s experiences as she visited the same places Nellie did. It made me antsy to travel again! This is the perfect book for readers who enjoy a good memoir!

NetGalley, Kristin Welch

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed getting to know Nellie Bly, I really felt bad for her that she was lost to time. The book was well-written and I was entertained from start to finish.

NetGalley, Kay McLeer

The extraordinary tale of Nellie Bly, who in 1889 beat Phileas Fogg at his own game by circumnavigating the globe for real in less than 80 days, was all but forgotten until a modern adventurer retraced the pioneering traveller’s footsteps to retell her story

Daily Express 27/05/21

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I can't even begin to imagine taking this trip at such a rapid pace as Nelly Bly did over 100 years ago.

As Rosemary Brown retraced the famous journey, she wrote beautifully of what she saw, the sights, sounds, scents, and what it all must have looked like when Ms. Bly ventured through there not so long ago.

Me knowing that there was another woman (Elizabeth Bisland) traveling in the opposite direction to prove that women could travel on their own, only added another layer of excitement as Brown took us along Nelly's route. I could imagine another author writing and adventuring at the same time as Brown.

In this time of the pandemic, Brown's book helped me (mentally) get out of my house and venture into the unknown.

Great trip back in history.

NetGalley, Patricia Fischer

I really enjoyed this one. I found the writing style easy to read and very accessible and it was a pleasure getting to know Nellie a little bit more. My personal highlight was Nellie being invited to meet Jules Verne and his wife at their home. Starstruck!

Nellie Bly was an amazing woman and I can't wait to read more about her life. I've already added a graphic novel and collection of her writings to my reading wish list! To do what Rosemary has done and follow in her footsteps must have been an amazing, once in a lifetime trip and I'm certainly very jealous!

If you love strong women from history, make sure you grab a copy of Following Nellie Bly for your shelves!

Read the full review via Instagram

Instagram, @perhapsiwillread

Nellie Bly is so inspirational! She pushes the boundaries on women’s role in society during the 19th century and embarks on a fascinating, ambitious and courageous solo journey around the world. Nothing was ‘impossible’ for Nellie. I was astonished to read about how she even managed to get inside the New York City Lunatic Asylum by convincing them she was insane and having to endure inhumane treatment all in the name of research and journalism.

This book provides a colourful and insightful whistle stop tour in multiple destinations along the way from the U.K. to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to Canton to Tokyo... This book gives me all the feels of wanderlust and a sense of adventure reading about Nellie Bly’s stories and observations, and also Rosemary’s own adoration of Nellie Bly and reliving Nellie Bly’s adventures.

As a huge lover of travelling myself, I admire Nellie’s bravery and determination to complete this challenging race particularly where travelling was longer (by sea and by train), and where international travel in particular for women travelling solo was not easy and more dangerous. I get the sense that Nellie found this aspect to be thrilling! Love how Nellie fell in love with Japan!

A remarkable story about a remarkable woman! And a great escapist and adventurous read.

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Instagram, @bookmarkonthewall

Rosemary follows Nellie devotedly around the world and brings her story back to life touchingly. Her admiration of Nellie is infectious and beautifully written. Thank you for the gift of another determined, headstrong and powerful heroine to love and admire. I particularly enjoyed the quote below;

'Young people, travel if you can, and if you cannot - travel all the same!'

Read the full review via Instagram

Instagram, @when_cathy_met_heathcliffe

I want my daughter to learn about women like Nellie (and Elizabeth Blisland who did the same trip in 76 days at the same time, still quicker than Phileas Fogg!) who refused to take no for an answer and did exactly what her mind and heart was set on, stories like Nellie's are so important to tell and im very glad I know hers now.

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Instagram, @sarasreadingdiary

Rosemary is a journalist herself, and she can definitely write. It was just wonderful to read her travel journal, interspersed with quotes from Nellie. Although this may seem like some heavy reading from the outside, it feels more like Rosemary is just talking to us than anything. It was very nice to see how much things have changed in the 125 years between the two journeys. Places like Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore have grown and developed enourmously from the colonial places Nellie visited. It was nice to see Brown hunt down the few remaining temples, statues and the one hotel that have remained.

This was a very enjoyable read for me, and an inspiring one for sure.

NetGalley, Milou Breedveld

Nellie truly was an incredible and inspirational woman. Her love of travel and revolutionary way of thinking made me jump at the chance to be a part of this book tour.

Read the full review via Instagram

Instagram, @the_not_so_cross_reader

What an incredible woman Nellie Bly was, not only did she beat Phileas Fogg, she also helped pave the way for women in journalism and much more.

“Nellie Bly defied the status quo, gave voices to the vulnerable, championed women’s rights and challenges us, still today, to believe that ‘nothing is impossible if one applies a certain amount of energy in the right direction.’”

As someone who loves to travel but hasn’t been able to in a while, it was so nice to delve into this book, take in the sights and embark on two amazing round the world trips.

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Instagram, @thebookdiaryofmisshewlett

This was exactly the kind of book I needed to read at the moment. A book about a strong, brave woman who defied all expectations and never let anything stand in her way. Nellie spent her life standing up for those who couldn't stand up for themselves and I loved following her on her journey around the world 🌍

It was a fascinating and absorbing read, allowing me to travel the world from my own little cottage.

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Instagram, @lozziereads

I also loved hearing about the authors journey she made to follow in Nellie's footsteps.

Overall a fantastic read and would highly recommend it!

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Instagram, @c_h_a_p_t_e_r_o_n_e

It’s not often that we hear about a young women in the 1800’s defying the societal norms, structures and engaging in such a trip, so that concept alone had me gripped from the very beginning. This book was so incredibly empowering, seeing the journey that she took!

Considering that most of us have been in Lockdown on and off for over a year now, this books is fab for a little travel inspo as well as a prefect read for some escapism!

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Instagram, @charlottereadsx

A superb biopic of another extraordinary female explorer.

Books Monthly

This is a FAB read. Rosemary travels in Nellie’s footsteps to tell her story. It’s the perfect book to step back in time and do some armchair travelling. Nellie paved the way for future journalists, her reporting advocated women’s rights, supported vulnerable children and the oppressed.

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Instagram, @historian_ellis

This is such a delightful, charming book, and I am grateful that it took me on a virtual tour in Nellie Bly's footsteps when international travel is banned from Australia. Intrepid journalist Nellie Bly decided to try to beat the fictional Phileas Fog's whirlwind trip around the world, and succeeded. She set off with only one useful dress and very little else, and travelled to several different places, including France, Sri Lanka, Japan and China. One of the highlights of her trip was visiting Phileas's creator Jules Verne and his wife at their home in Amiens, France. She often travelled in style, staying at some grand hotels, but she also had to put up with some awful conditions in various places. Nellie captured hearts wherever she went, especially in her beloved Japan .

Rosemary J. Brown set off to find Nellie, and she found her in a few places, but the world has changed so much with natural disasters, demolished buildings and other changes that it was hard to find spaces which had remained exactly the same. However, Nellie's spirits was with her, and she writes vivid and colourful descriptions of her travels. I especially love her description of beautiful Colombo, which really made me want to visit. She had a much easier time than Nellie on occasion, for example, she travels from London to Colombo in eleven hours; it took Nellie sixteen days!

Like Nellie, Rosemary J. Brown is concerned about violations of human rights, and her descriptions of executions in China both then and now will make your blood run cold. Nellie's fascination with them was rather macabre, though.

I would be happy to read this book again, and it made me want to read more about Nellie Bly.

NetGalley, Lisa Sanderson

In these days of pandemic I do miss being able to travel beyond the daily dog walks in my neighborhood. I'm glad I got to travel when I did, back in my youth - sadly those days will never return. Now, as I dream of travel, what a joy it was to encounter this book and spend time in the days of the great Nellie Bly as they are seen through the travels of Rosemary Brown. It's not possible to match Nellie's around the world trip but this was a treat for this armchair traveler.
One thing that I found fascinating that connects Nellie Bly to Rick Steves - traveling vast distances with nothing more than a carry-on. I've tried that and came up way short. So settle down in a comfy chair with a cuppa and take a mental trip in the footsteps of Nellie Bly. I enjoyed every page and was left with a desire to go back and read more about Nellie Bly.

NetGalley, Susan Eggers

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Nellie Bly was not for the faint of heart. As a female journalist in a "man's world" she found herself sneaking into mental hospitals, exposing corruption, and completing the Jules Verne around the world trip in 72 days. In this book, author Rosemary Brown retraces Bly's footsteps for this expedition and in doing so discovers the world of Bly herself.

NetGalley, Victoria Irwin

As soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. I’ve been fascinated with Nellie Bly for years and was excited to see a new book about her life. I assumed it was another biography, but it is actually more of a travelogue in which the author retraces Nellie’s around the world adventure. The book is part travel/cultural journal and part history, and includes a bit of biographical information, as well.

The author, Rosemary Brown, begins by talking about her love for Victorian female adventurers and “how they defied convention.” The idea for this book came to her during the winter of 2013, when she decided to reenact Nellie’s trip, although her trip would be via plane rather than by boat. Coincidentally, or not, 2014 was the 125th anniversary of Nellie’s journey around the world. It was the perfect time to retrace some of Nellie’s steps.

Brown, who lives in England, followed part of Nellie’s trip around the world, searching for her in each place she visited. In some locations, Nellie wasn’t difficult to find; in others, there was little or no trace remaining of the past. I enjoyed the author’s lively writing style and I loved learning about the history of each country Brown visited. I also found myself wanting to visit each place and have added more countries to my travel bucket list!

As a fan of Nellie Bly, and travel, I was super excited to read this book and it did not disappoint.

NetGalley, Connie Yen

Article ‘On the trail of Nellie Bly’ as featured by

Harper’s Bazaar, April 2021

As featured on the ‘This Week We're Loving' page

The People’s Friend, 27th March 2021

This engaging work — part travelogue, part biography— describes Nellie Bly’s famous 1888 journey around the world and the author’s 21st Century recreation of the journey. The juxtaposition of the two trips gives readers the opportunity to learn more about Bly and see how much has changed (and how much has stayed the same) in the years since her landmark trip. Both Bly and Brown are delightful travel companions for the reader. Perfect for armchair travelers and those who enjoy narrative history or biography.

NetGalley, Sharon Reidt

Nellie Bly is a fascinating character from history and this was an interesting read.

NetGalley, Makenzie Erickson

If only we weren't in lockdown (a common thought) because this book gave me major wanderlust and the need to be travelling again. Nellie Bly decided to take on Phileas Fogg and go around the world in less than 80 days and author Rosemary J Brown is now retracing her footsteps. It's a lovely researched book and covers both journeys. I enjoyed it from both an historical point of view and a travel book. I really want to go read more about Nellie now as well as the travelling. An inspiring read.

NetGalley, Kirsty White

Interesting story. Must admit that I knew the name Nellie Bly, but knew little about who she was. As a young journalist in the late 1800s, she decided to recreate the journey from the book Around the World in 80 days. The author from present day decided to recreate Nelliés journey, including using some of her packing list. I enjoyed this one a lot, although travel books are best in short bursts for my taste. Inspirational and adventurous book. One I highly recommend.

NetGalley, Kaye Temanson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What a cool idea!, following the steps of Nellie Bly, the greatest female journalist who ever lived, around the world in 80 days; and Nellie did it in only 72 days! She packed her bag with essentials, which included her slippers and her cold creme, wore her newly and specially made dress, and off she went. On the way, she visited Jules Verne, the author of Around The World In Eighty Days, and his wife at their home in France. From November 14, 1889 to January, 1890, she traveled around the world, visiting Italy, China, Japan, Singapore, Ceylon, San Francisco, and back to Manhattan..(only naming a few of the places she visited). The author of Following Nellie Bly, Rosemary J. Brown, traveled from September 6 to October 8, 2014, and followed her route. I was struck by the hardship of Nellie's travel by carriage and ship. Ms. Brown had travel by air. Nellie was incredibly brave and stalwart, and so dedicated to get the story, that even when saying goodbye as she was on a ship beginning her travel from New York, she swallowed her emotional good bye and left!
This is such a cool book and bravos go to Ms. Brown for her idea and her dedication. Pen and Sword Publishing puts out the best books, and this is one of them. Thank you to Pen and Sword Publishing, as well as to Netgalley for the epub. And I have to mention that Ms. Brown raised money for UNICEF through her travels...again BRAVO!

NetGalley, Ellie Potts Barrett

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Where to begin with this wonderful book? Nellie Bly was an extraordinary female American journalist who, at the age of 25, wished to traverse the world in less time than Jules Verne's Phineas Fogg's 80 days. But in 1890 a young female traveler was absolutely unheard of and that fact presented a few challenges. Nonetheless, Nellie persisted and visited each continent in 72 days. As a rabid traveler, I completely understand the allure, though after months away I never wish to return home! The author, Rosemary Brown, chose to undertake the same route 125 years later, though of course encountered many changes in sites/sights Nellie saw and many buildings no longer exist, though some did. What a fascinating challenge! This book is the story of Nellie, her legacy, her pioneering spirit, her taking on difficult situations head on as well as the author's quest to emulate the journey with the same winsome spirit.

Nellie was a light packer. In fact, her gripsack would be the equivalent of a carryon for us. But she was fearless and went. Her adventures left me breathless from seeing exquisite gems to visiting Jules Verne to experiencing new-to-her cultures to her frustrating delays to a lighthouse to execution grounds and cemeteries to temples and monkeys to orchid houses. Her homecoming is detailed here as well. What I knew of Nellie was her asylum research and fight for the poor and did not realize she traveled the world as well! The list of items she packed is amazing! And such fun to read about. There are many lovely and descriptive quotes of hers in this glorious book. Oh, how I would have loved to have known her! But this author makes me feel I practically do.

You will learn a lot about engaging Nellie Bly and her personality by reading this book. It is fabulously interesting especially if you are intrigued by world travels, women's independence in the Victorian age and the undertaking of a contemporary woman in her footsteps. This book prompted me to read more on Nellie Bly so I have requested books from the library.

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

Nellie Bly is an amazing woman, born way before her time. From living in a mental asylum for a story to travelling the world in under 80 days. Truly a remarkable woman.

NetGalley, Sheila Treacy

About Rosemary J Brown

Journalist Rosemary J Brown writes for publications in the UK, USA and France. In her quest to get female adventurers like Nellie Bly ‘back on the map’, she lectures at the Globetrotters Club, Women of the World festivals and schools, and helped to organise the first Heritage of Women in Exploration conference at the Royal Geographical Society.

Nellie Bly is born

5th May 1864

Nellie Bly – born Elizabeth Jane Cochrane – was born in on 5 May 1864 in Cochrans Mills, Pennsylvania.

Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane) begins her attempt to surpass fictitious journey of Jules Verne's Phileas Fogg by traveling around the world in under 80 days.

14th November 1889

New York World reporter Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane) begins her attempt to surpass fictitious journey of Jules Verne's Phileas Fogg by traveling around the world in under 80 days. She succeeds, finishing the trip in 72 days, 6 hours.

Journalist Nellie Bly beats the fictitious journey of Jules Verne's Phileas Fogg around the world by 8 days (72 days)

25th January 1890

Journalist Nellie Bly beats the fictitious journey of Jules Verne's Phileas Fogg around the world by 8 days (72 days)

The death of Nellie Bly

27th January 1922

Journalist and businesswoman Nellie Bly died from pneumonia on 27 January 1922. Nellie is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery Bronx, New York.

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