Jules Verne

William Butcher

With a Foreword by Arthur C Clarke

New edition, revised and expanded


Read by Simon Vance

12 hrs 14 mins


Oasis Audio









Jules Verne: The Biography audiobook cover art

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Jules Verne (1828-1905) is a phenomenon: probably the world's most translated writer and one of the greatest accumulated sales. With Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, and Around the World in Eighty Days, the Frenchman reshaped global literature. He continues to dominate the box office and pervade 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.

For this audio edition, the text has been fully revised and contains much new material.

Critical reactions

"a cornucopia of information about [Verne], made all the more indispensable with the additional detail, refinements, and corrections [in the audio edition]", Tad Davis

"one of the world's most outstanding Verne scholars", Michael Dirda

"captivating", Marie-Hélène Huet (Science Fiction Studies, vol. 47, no 2, July 2020, pp. 272-3)

"a voyage extraordinaire through [Verne's] bittersweet life and encyclopedic imagination", Washington Post

"it really is wonderfully vivid! I almost feel like I’m looking over [Verne's] shoulder", Tad Davis

"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

“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

'almost too interesting", Booklist

"a vivid read", Renée Tursi

"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

"clear and entertaining... every page is full of interest and insight", Scienticity


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