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Jules Verne

William Butcher

With a Foreword by Arthur C Clarke

Thunder's Mouth







Jules Verne (1828-1905) is a phenomenon: the world's most translated writer and one of the greatest accumulated sales. With Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, and Around the World in Eighty Days, the Frenchman reshaped global literature. He still dominates the U.S. box office and pervades our life and culture.

But behind all the success lay a tormented man: a sexual misfit, a plagiarist, then a sad and lonely recluse. Now at last comes an authoritative biography worthy of this controversial figure. William Butcher combines groundbreaking research on Verne's childhood and bohemian decades with the discovery of an unknown contemporary biography and of Verne's first book.

He brilliantly recounts the novelist's money woes and amorous escapades, Scottish ancestry and right-wing connections, court cases and near-murder. This erudite but readable narrative by the leading English-language specialist reveals the man inside the legend.

The book will astound and delight those who know Jules Verne only by hearsay.


Best of Frenchculture.org Ribbon, for its “exceptional quality [and] insight”

Critical reactions

"the first serious biography of Verne", Penguin Classics

"quite spectacular", Michael Crichton

"indispensable ... deservedly subtitle[d] 'The Definitive Biography'", Kieran O'Driscoll

"magnificent", Rain Taxi

"quite remarkable", Agnès Marcetteau-Paul

"eclipses anything published before in English", Peter Costello

"easily the most insightful and accessible biography", Paul Chart

"far surpass[es] previous efforts", Prof. Arthur B. Evans

"a vivid read", Washington Post

“Verne gave us the earth and the moon. Now Butcher gives us the real Verne. Bravo!” Ray Bradbury

“A fascinating portrait of a flesh-and-blood human being”, Volker Dehs

“The most documented, detailed, and accurate biography”, Count Piero Gondolo della Riva

"un outil superbe", Jean-Michel Margot

"a remarkable achievement", Ron Miller

"opens a box of goodies whose key should have been jimmied long ago", Tom McCormick

"authoritative, revelatory... stunningly well-researched", Heather Wilkinson

"radiates fascination", Booklist

"every page is full of interest and insight", Science Besieged

"the best modern biography of Verne", Encyclopaedia Britannica

"gorgeously written and full of valuable new detail", Frederick Paul Walter

"A tour de force of scholarly investigation and the indispensable starting-point for Anglophone readers of Verne", David Coward

"[fait] autorité", Jean-Claude Bollinger