In 1888, stunt journalist Nellie Bly (see other entries in “Categories – Nellie Bly” in right sidebar) convinced her boss, the editor of the New York World, to send her on a trip around the world alone. She bet him that she could do it in eighty days or less. Where had she gotten this hairbrain scheme? From a book by Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days. She was always getting wild and crazy ideas for her newspaper stories. Remember, of course, that the year before she had posed as an lunatic to get committed to an insane asylum. She had also posed as an unwed mother to expose the black market baby adoption rackets.
Nellie’s editor liked her idea but had two concerns. He thought she would need a male protector, that she shouldn’t travel alone.
“Very well, start the man,” she said, “and I’ll start the same day for some other newspaper and beat him.”
Her editor got the idea. He couldn’t afford to let Nellie Bly quit his paper and go to work for a rival. New York newspaper competition was fierce and Nellie Bly’s articles dramatically boosted circulation for the World. He gave her the assignment. A year later she was ready to go.