Nellie Bly

I never knew much about Nellie Bly until I looked into her life for this blog entry. She was an amazing woman.

Investigative journalist Nellie Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran on May 5, 1864 in Cochran’s Mill, Pennsylvania. Her family were fairly well-to-do, but when her father died without a will, it left the six year old and her family in distressed circumstances.

Her career in journalism started with a letter to the editor. In the Pittsburg Dispatch, writer Erasmus Wilson claimed that women were best served in the home, conducting domestic duties such as raising children, cooking and cleaning…” Elizabeth shot back a fiery letter calling him on his sexism. The paper was so impressed they offered her a job, and she chose her pen name Nellie Bly. says about her: “Bly expanded upon the negative consequences of sexist ideologies and emphasized the importance of women’s rights issues. She also became renowned for her investigative and undercover reporting, including posing as a sweatshop worker to expose poor working conditions faced by women.”

In 1887 she began working for New York World, where she did an expose of conditions in a woman’s mental institution by going to live there for ten days as a patient. Her writings caused an investigation of the place, and led to much needed reforms. She subsequently wrote a book about it called Ten Days in a Mad-House. She followed this “with similar investigative work, including editorials detailing the improper treatment of individuals in New York jails and factories, corruption in the state legislature and other first-hand accounts of malfeasance. She also interviewed and wrote pieces on several prominent figures of the time, including the likes of Emma Goldman and Susan B. Anthony.”

In 1889, she embarked on a trip around the world aiming to break the fictitious record of Phineas Fogg of Around the World in 80 Days. She made it in 72 days. She also published this as a book called appropriately Around the World in 72 Days.

Nellie Bly was the example of what a woman could do in a time that was even more of a man’s world than it is today. Alas, she died at the age of 57 of pneumonia or we might have more of her hard-hitting journalism.


Some quotes by Nellie Bly:
Accept praise for what it’s worth – politeness. Be brutally frank with yourself. It’s safer.

Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything.

A free American girl can accommodate herself to circumstances without the aid of a man.

I always have a comfortable feeling that nothing is impossible if one applies a certain amount of energy in the right direction. (Around the World in Seventy-Two Days)

Energy rightly applied and directed will accomplish anything. (said to be her motto)

Never having failed, I could not picture what failure meant… (From Jersey Back To Jersey)

Susan Anthony is all that is best and noblest in woman. She is ideal… and if we will have in women who vote what we have in her, let us all hope to promote the cause of woman suffrage. (Champion Of Her Sex)

I was too impatient to work at the usual duties assigned women on newspapers. (Six Months In Mexico)

I have never written a word that did not come from my heart. I never shall. (The Evening-Journal, January 8, 1922)

I said I could and I would. And I did. (Ten Days in a Mad-House)

I need a vacation; why not take a trip around the world? (Around the World in 72 Days)

How nonsensical it is to blame or criticise people for what they are powerless to change. (Around the World in Seventy-Two Days)

To sit on a quiet deck, to have a star-lit sky the only light above or about, to hear the water kissing the prow of the ship, is, to me, paradise. (Around the World in Seventy-Two Days)

Find nearly 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s