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Monday, May 21, 2018

Bylines: A Photobiography of Nellie Bly by Sue Macy

Bylines: A Photobiography of Nellie BlyNellie Bly, born Elizabeth Jane Cochran, led an exciting, fascinating life. She was the most famous reporter in America, and she made a habit of doing things that she was often told women could not do. In fact, her journalistic career began with an angry letter to the editor. When a newspaper columnist wrote an article saying that women's job in life was to make a nice home for her husband, not to have a career or compete with men in any way, Nellie was furious and wrote a passionate, opinionated letter that so impressed the editor that he offered her a job writing for the paper.

Bylines: A Photobiography of Nellie Bly covers Nellie Bly's journalistic career, including the origin of her pen name and the type of stories she liked to write, and her infamous trip around the world in eighty days. Nellie was prone to undercover and dramatic investigative reporting, such as the time she had herself committed to an insane asylum to report on the conditions of the hospital (for more about this, check out our e-book copy of Ten Days a Madwoman by Deborah Noyes).

Her most famous and most daring stunt, though, was the one that made her a household name. Like the character Phileas Fogg in the 1873 Jules Verne novel Around The World in Eighty Days, Nellie insisted that she could travel around the world in less than eighty days. Bylines does a great job of capturing the trip in descriptions and photographs (it's a National Geographic book, so the photographs are excellent). For slightly older readers, we have some chapter books about Nellie's trip around the world! Interested readers should check out The Race Around the World by Nancy Castaldo or It Can't Be Done, Nellie Bly!: A Reporter's Race Around the World by Nancy Butcher.

For more advanced readers who are interested in journalism and the muckrakers, I recommend Nellie Bly and Investigative Journalism for Kids: Mighty Muckrakers from the Golden Age to Today (with 21 activities) by Ellen Mahoney. This is a more in-depth, 121 page biography of Nellie Bly and other investigative journalists like Ida B. Wells and Upton Sinclair and has different activities that correspond with each of the journalists.

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