Nellie Bly - Journalists, Timeline and Life

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Nellie Bly's Personal Details

Nellie Bly was an American journalist who is best known for her investigative and undercover reporting

InformationDetail
BirthdayMay 5, 1864
Died onJanuary 27, 1922
NationalityAmerican
FamousMedia Personalities, Journalists
City/StateNew Yorkers
SpousesRobert Seaman
Known asElizabeth Jane Cochran, Elisabeth Cochrane Seaman, Elisabeth Jane Cochrane
Birth PlacePennsylvania, United States
GenderFemale
Sun SignTaurus
Born inPennsylvania, United States
Famous asJournalist
Died at Age57

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Nellie Bly's photo

Who is Nellie Bly?

Popularly known by her pen name Nellie Bly, Elizabeth Cochran was an American journalist and writer who was a pioneer in the field of investigative journalism. She started a new trend in reporting that earned her recognition as an undercover reporter. At a time when women reporters were generally restricted to ‘women’s page’ reporting, Bly covered wider issues beyond just gardening or lifestyle and concentrated on slum life and other important topics. Though most of her works were based on throwing light at the appalling condition of women in the society, and the need to uplift them, she is best remembered for her work on an asylum exposé in 1887 in which she faked insanity to get into a mental asylum and reported about the horrific condition of the mental patients. Also, her 1889 record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg, was a historic move for a woman at that time.

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Childhood & Early Life

Nellie Bly was born as Elizabeth Jane Cochran on May 5, 1864 in Cochran’s Mills, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, to a mill worker Michael Cochran and his wife Mary Jane. She had several siblings and half-siblings.

Young Elizabeth attended boarding school but just for a term before dropping out due to insufficient funds. Her father’s death when she was quite young had left the Cochran family with meagre means.

In 1880, the family moved to Pittsburgh where Elizabeth supported her single mother by running a boarding house.

Career

Elizabeth’s writing career started abruptly and unintentionally. A misogynistic column in the daily, ‘The Pittsburgh Dispatch’, prompted her to pen a fiery rebuttal to the editor under the pseudonym ‘Lonely Orphan Girl.’ Such was the impression of her writing that it won her a full-time employment with the newspaper.

As was the trend then, women writers wrote under pen names. Elizabeth too began writing under the pen name ‘Nellie Bly’ after the Stephen Foster song.

Most of Bly’s early works revolved around the negative consequences of sexist ideologies and emphasized the importance of women's rights issues. She often exposed the poor working conditions faced by women. The investigative nature of her articles and her cry for women’s rights issues did not go too well with the editors of the newspaper who pushed her into the so-called ‘women's pages’ to cover fashion, society, and gardening.

Aspiring for a more meaningful career, she travelled to Mexico to serve as a foreign correspondent. She regularly sent articles reporting about the lives and customs of Mexican people which were later published as a book titled, ‘Six Months in Mexico.

Nellie Bly was ousted from Mexico after she ran a series of articles criticizing the Mexican dictator and ruler, Porfirio Diaz. Returning to Pittsburgh, she temporarily continued working for ‘The Pittsburgh Dispatch’ before leaving for New York City in 1887.

At New York, she soon found herself a job at Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper, ‘New York World.’ One of her early assignments was to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island. For the same, she feigned insanity to get into the asylum and have a first-hand experience of the treatment meted out to patients.

After a ten-day stay at the asylum, it was at the behest of the newspaper that Bly was freed. Her report of the horrifyingly appalling conditions prevailing inside the asylum was an eye-opener for the general public and authorities alike. It shed light on the disturbing living condition of patients, the neglect on part of the authorities and the physical abuse meted out to patients.

Her work, which was later reprinted as a book titled ‘Ten Days in a Mad House’ spurred a large-scale investigation of the institution as well as the much-needed improvements in health care.

Ten Days in a Mad-House’ was a raging success and brought Nellie Bly immense fame and recognition as a writer and civil rights activist. She was inducted as a part of the expert team launched to better the conditions prevailing at the asylum. A number of positive changes were made after the release of the book.

Following her superlative success with the Blackwell expose, she continued with her investigative series of work, exposing improper treatment in New York jails and factories, corruption in state legislature and so on.

In 1888, inspired by Jules Verne’s 1873 novel ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’, Bly aimed to turn the fictional tale into reality. The ‘New York World’ completely supported her ambitious feat. With an attempt to break the faux record of the character of Phileas Fogg, Bly began her 24, 899 mile journey on November 14, 1889, boarding the Augusta Victoria.

Nellie Bly embarked on her journey from Hoboken, New Jersey, travelling first by ship but later by other vehicles. During her travels around the world, she went through England, France, Brindisi, the Suez Canal, Colombo, the Straits Settlements of Penang and Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan.

She completed the trip in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds, setting a new world record. Interestingly, rival newspaper ‘New York Cosmopolitan’ had sent their reporter Elizabeth Bisland on a similar journey but she arrived four days later.

Nellie Bly gained international stardom for her world tour stunt that multiplied her fame. Though ‘New York World’ continuously covered her travel diaries, it was later in 1890 that Bly published a book about the experience, titling it ‘Around the World in 72 Days.

She left the newspaper industry after her marriage to serve as the president of her husband’s company, Iron Clad Manufacturing Co. As a social reformer she gave over-the-top perks to her employees but the scheme cost the company so dearly that it went bankrupt. Bly switched back to reporting, later on writing stories on Europe's Eastern Front during World War I and the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913.

Major Works

Nellie Bly’s first major work as a reporter was when she did the asylum expose for ‘New York World.’ Her work ‘Ten Days in a Mad House’ was a phenomenal success and won her great acclaim. Her report on the horrifyingly conditions inside the asylum led to numerous reforms in the living condition of the mental patients.

Bly’s literary success proliferated when she turned the fictional tale of Jules Verne’s 1873 novel ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’, into reality. She completed circumnavigating the world in just 72 days and recorded her travel experiences in a book titled ‘Around the World in 72 Days.

Personal Life & Legacy

Nellie Bly tied the nuptial knot in 1895 with the millionaire manufacturer Robert Seaman. Following her marriage, she retired from journalism and became the president of her husband’s Iron Clad Manufacturing Company.

In 1904, when her husband died, Bly took over the reign of the company. She became one the leading women industrialists in the US and was the inventor of a novel milk can and a stacking garbage can, holding the patents for both.

She breathed her last on January 27, 1922 at St. Mark's Hospital in New York City due to pneumonia. She was 57 years of age. She was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City.

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Nellie Bly biography timelines

  • // 5th May 1864
    Nellie Bly was born as Elizabeth Jane Cochran on May 5, 1864 in Cochran’s Mills, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, to a mill worker Michael Cochran and his wife Mary Jane. She had several siblings and half-siblings.
  • // 1873
    Bly’s literary success proliferated when she turned the fictional tale of Jules Verne’s 1873 novel ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’, into reality. She completed circumnavigating the world in just 72 days and recorded her travel experiences in a book titled ‘Around the World in 72 Days.
  • // 1880
    In 1880, the family moved to Pittsburgh where Elizabeth supported her single mother by running a boarding house.
  • // 1887
    Nellie Bly was ousted from Mexico after she ran a series of articles criticizing the Mexican dictator and ruler, Porfirio Diaz. Returning to Pittsburgh, she temporarily continued working for ‘The Pittsburgh Dispatch’ before leaving for New York City in 1887.
  • // 1890
    Nellie Bly gained international stardom for her world tour stunt that multiplied her fame. Though ‘New York World’ continuously covered her travel diaries, it was later in 1890 that Bly published a book about the experience, titling it ‘Around the World in 72 Days.
  • // 1895
    Nellie Bly tied the nuptial knot in 1895 with the millionaire manufacturer Robert Seaman. Following her marriage, she retired from journalism and became the president of her husband’s Iron Clad Manufacturing Company.
  • // 1904
    In 1904, when her husband died, Bly took over the reign of the company. She became one the leading women industrialists in the US and was the inventor of a novel milk can and a stacking garbage can, holding the patents for both.
  • // 1913
    She left the newspaper industry after her marriage to serve as the president of her husband’s company, Iron Clad Manufacturing Co. As a social reformer she gave over-the-top perks to her employees but the scheme cost the company so dearly that it went bankrupt. Bly switched back to reporting, later on writing stories on Europe's Eastern Front during World War I and the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913.
  • // 27th Jan 1922
    She breathed her last on January 27, 1922 at St. Mark's Hospital in New York City due to pneumonia. She was 57 years of age. She was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City.

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Nellie Bly's FAQ

  • What is Nellie Bly birthday?

    Nellie Bly was born at 1864-05-05

  • When was Nellie Bly died?

    Nellie Bly was died at 1922-01-27

  • Where was Nellie Bly died?

    Nellie Bly was died in New York City

  • Which age was Nellie Bly died?

    Nellie Bly was died at age 57

  • Where is Nellie Bly's birth place?

    Nellie Bly was born in Pennsylvania, United States

  • What is Nellie Bly nationalities?

    Nellie Bly's nationalities is American

  • Who is Nellie Bly spouses?

    Nellie Bly's spouses is Robert Seaman

  • What is Nellie Bly's sun sign?

    Nellie Bly is Taurus

  • How famous is Nellie Bly?

    Nellie Bly is famouse as Journalist