Her expose rocked the city, led to reforms, and made Bly famous. Kroeger goes beyond the well-known stories about Bly, documenting her reporting career and her life as an industrialist. This is a remarkable biography of an extraordinary woman that should be added to most library collections.
Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist by Brooke Kroeger
This much-needed book offers a detailed description of the life of the most famous woman reporter of her era. Bly triumphed over a childhood that ranged from times of plenty to destitution.
An independent spirit whose persona fit the rough-and-tumble world of journalism, she worked first for the Pittsburgh Dispatch but moved in to New York newspapers. Her most famous work appeared in Pulitzer's World. Her specialty was what journalism historians call "stunt journalism," reports of gimmicky expeditions that garner great readership. Her most famous stunt was circling the earth in a trifle over 72 days--to beat the fictional Phileas Fogg's 80 days. She also was famous for her description of life in an insane asylum.
Later in life, she became a WW I reporter and took up the plight of orphans and unwed mothers. Abounding with examples of her stories and her personal correspondence, the book amply demonstrates Bly's development as a professional reporter.
The author offers little that is critical of this historic personality. Detail is enormous, however, and although the book is not written in a scholarly style, its documentation is superb, its illustrations useful and elucidating. General readers and upper-division undergraduates.
Halverson; Arizona State University. Thank you for using the catalog. Women journalists -- United States -- Biography. Booklist Review Reporter and editor Kroeger was amazed to discover that not a single comprehensive biography had ever been written about the famous "girl" reporter Nellie Bly Publisher's Weekly Review This is the definitive work on the reporter who traveled around the world in 72 days in and was one of the pioneer women journalists. Choice Review This much-needed book offers a detailed description of the life of the most famous woman reporter of her era.
Make this your default list. The following items were successfully added. Feb 16, Richard rated it liked it Shelves: According to author Brooke Kroeger's introduction, this is the first biography ever of Bly that was written for an adult audience. There have been a number of children's books about her famous trip around the world. Bly led an interesting life; she was a pioneering female journalist and also an initially successful industrialist.
The journalism chapters were very interesting -- for whatever reason, I have something of a fascination with the history of newspapers -- but the lengthy chapter on her business affairs, titled "Bankruptcy" sucked a lot of the air out of the book. It was a significant part of her life. It made her wealthy. It made her broke. It involved betrayals by employees and family members. But the details about accounting matters and tax law and court proceedings became tedious after a while. I was thinking of this book getting a four-star rating until I slammed into that chapter, so I had to drop the rating down to three.
But there's a lot of good stuff in this book. It's intriguing to think of what Nellie Bly would have been in the 21st Century. There's a lot of talk about how charming and dazzling she was. And there's a lot of evidence of her empathy. It seems she would have been a natural for television. It's hard, though, to gauge how charming she actually was, since most of the accounts of her charm came from Bly herself. She wasn't at all modest, she left many accounts of her pretty hair and her smile.
Anyway, her vanity aside, there's quite a bit to admire about Nellie Bly. She tenaciously built two careers during an era when the deck was very much stacked against women. She built her own niche in the field of journalism. Late in her career, she leveraged her fame, and her newspaper column, into becoming an advocate for unwed mothers and abandoned children.
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However, she refused to help any young mothers who had a trace of an English accent. Bly had a life-long hatred of everything about England, and the book provides no explanation for this. I have to assume that if Kroeger had uncovered a reason, she would have documented it. There is evidence of this bias of Bly's throughout the book.
Jul 04, Alice Vachss rated it really liked it. Every New Yorker who loves investigative journalism has heard the story of the long-ago woman reporter brave enough to fake insanity, get committed to the New York Women's Lunatic Asylum, and expose from the inside the cruelty and abuse prevalent on that infamous island in the East River.
Until I started this book, I didn't remember that her pen name was Nellie Bly nor about the rest of her outrageous life. Brooke Kroeger is an imminently fair biographer. She lets her subject speak for herself s Every New Yorker who loves investigative journalism has heard the story of the long-ago woman reporter brave enough to fake insanity, get committed to the New York Women's Lunatic Asylum, and expose from the inside the cruelty and abuse prevalent on that infamous island in the East River.
She lets her subject speak for herself so that the reader comes away understanding a hugely flawed but courageous and daring and admirable character who very much deserves the place in history the author assures her. As much as it is impossible not to admire Nellie Bly and to recognize her as a trail blazer for women's rights, I was horrified by much of what she said or did. It was Kroeger's unfailing admiration coupled with unvarnished reporting that allowed me to see this larger than life character as a full human being. The book lacks some narrative force but perhaps with a main figure so overstated, an understated biographer is a good thing.
You have to be fascinated by a character who writes of her early job-seeking days in New York: Indeed, I cannot say the thought ever presented itself to me, for I never in my life turned back from a course I had started upon. I first heard about Nellie Bly because of Drunk History but hadn't given her much thought since then.
Recently, I found out about a podcast called History Chicks and a related book club here on goodreads. One of the episodes was about Nellie Bly and this biography was the most recent book of the month. I am not a nonfiction reader, no matter how much I want to be. To me, reading nonfiction takes too much concentration and it is, by definition, reality. As I tell people, I live in reality and I first heard about Nellie Bly because of Drunk History but hadn't given her much thought since then.
As I tell people, I live in reality and books are my escape. At any rate, I plunged into this one and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I felt like I was reading any old story and was eager to gather more details about her life. In the past, biographies I've tried to read tended to have too many details.
Bly's biography did eventually get a little bogged down in details, in my opinion, especially went it got to all of the dealings with her business and family later in life. I found myself not caring that much about so many details about court cases and such.
Altogether, I think the book was pretty good and I am glad that I read it. Nellie Bly's life was truly something to read about. Jun 17, Anne rated it liked it. A VERY long biography of a very interesting woman. This book details different stages of Nellie Bly's life in intricate detail. It also delves deeply into the history of women reporters. In the beginning sections, I found it quite compelling reading. I especially enjoyed the verbatim snippets of her actual articles, which give a picture of her as well as a good feel for the times.
However, my interest flagged as it got bogged down in the intricate details of her legal struggles surround her busi A VERY long biography of a very interesting woman. However, my interest flagged as it got bogged down in the intricate details of her legal struggles surround her businesses, and there were LOTS of legal struggles.
I found myself skipping pages, which I rarely do. Nellie Bly was an amazing woman, so this is a worthwhile read even if you have to slog through bits here and there. It was definitely interesting to read of the life of Nellie Bly and what she did for women in reporting.
I found her story sad because she was so often taken advantage of. Though to me it did come off as if she were a little to trusting and willing to let family or other people take over management of important aspects of her life. Is that merely a sign of her times and how hard it was for women to control anything about their own lives?
Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist
Jul 10, Stine Diamond-owens rated it it was ok. Writer committed a major information dump that made you wonder where her editor had gone when this went to publish. Despite the author's note professing her long-admiration for Ms Bly she presented as if Bly were constantly on trial, failing by oceans to create any connection with the reader and main character. Not good for a book club. Mine wanted to lynch me, and frankly I was ready to give them the rope. Dec 07, Peter Goodman rated it it was amazing Shelves: Before reading this book, all I knew about Nellie Bly was that it was the name of an amusement park on the water side of the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, between Coney Island and Fort Hamilton.
During a time that journalists were hungry, competitive, far from objective and hungering for sensation, Bly—barely educated, from an impoverished family in Pennsylvanialed them all in stunts, scoops and daring. She had already made a small name for herself in Pittsburgh, but for four months could not find any way of getting hired by any of the newspapers in New York. She got some attention by writing a first-person piece in the Pittsburg Dispatch about why New York editors refused to hire women reporters. She interviewed them and reported their answers, which were absurdly out of touch.
So she talked her way into the office of John A. She pretended she was crazy. Journalism was really wide open then: She was 23 years old. She described everything she saw, everything she heard, and everything she felt. It was a sensation. Bly wrote about the appalling working conditions for women and children in factories, the suffering of striking mill workers.
Within a short time, Nellie Bly was one of the most famous, if not the most famous reporter in the USA. She was audacious, persistent, indefatigable, intensely curious and frank. But beyond her career as a reporter there was a period when many women worked as journalists, although they had to fight to stay off the society and garden pages , she became an industrialist by marrying a man named Robert Seaman when she was 31 and he was He was the owner of the Iron-Clad Manufacturing Company, which made tanks and other metal containers from a huge plant in Brooklyn.
He died seven years after their marriage, but not before willing everything in his estate to her. She went on to build the company to greater business, created another company to build steel barrels, and engaged in running battles with some of her in-laws over the company. She earned patents for various manufacturing processes, and understood everything about how her factory worked. So some of her most trusted employees began stealing her blind. Completely cut off from developments in the US, she wrote movingly of the suffering of Austrian troops and people, of the horrors of the warfare, and the courtesy and civility of those she met.
I could go on and on. By the time she got back to the US, the Iron-Clad was bankrupt, she was suspected of being if not a spy then definitely pro-German, and she wound up penniless, defrauded of her company and her fortune. But she was indomitable and began writing again, what became one of the first advice columns. Her favorite subjects were the plight of working women and suffering children. She never gave up, although by the time she died her style was very much out of fashion. Kroeger put the story together not so much like a detective but like a jigsaw puzzler, piecing together information from old clippings, letters, journals, etc etc.
An incredible, wonderful, almost forgotten story. Though I do wonder why she never examines the relationship or lack thereof with the great muckrakers, such as Lincoln Steffens, Upton Sinclair or Ida M. May 05, Teresa rated it really liked it. This was a well researched biography. I look forward to sharing it with my granddaughter when she is older. Until recently, my knowledge of Nellie Bly was limited to her 10 days in a mental institution and her race around the world, both stunts she performed for the sake of newspaper articles.
Then I read a blurb which listed some of her other accomplishments. Of course in typical fashion, I can't remember where that was, but it prompted me to read a biography to learn more about her. Kroeger's book is well-written, very well-researched, and full of details, in some cases more than I wanted. Bly seems Until recently, my knowledge of Nellie Bly was limited to her 10 days in a mental institution and her race around the world, both stunts she performed for the sake of newspaper articles.
Bly seems full of contradictions, especially when it comes to calling her a feminist, but her articles are full of information about her and her feelings about the person or topic she is writing about. Kroeger makes good use of quotes to give us a feel for these contradictions. Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran and called "Pinky" by her family and friends. The "e" was added to the last name later. Her father, an immigrant from Ireland, worked his way up from mill worker to owner and left the family reasonably well-off when he died.
But a disastrous second marriage by her mother, Mary Jane, and mismanagement of the children's trust funds left Elizabeth with a distrust of some men, and a need to make her own way. She didn't, however, set out to become a reporter. In response to a column in the Pittsburgh Dispatch, Elizabeth wrote a letter to the editor signed "Lonely Orphan Girl.
He chose the name Nellie Bly for her and judiciously edited her early articles. Throughout her twenties, Nellie Bly wrote for women's pages although she hated it and did "stunt" journalism, such as the "around the world" articles which she loved. Journalism was something that Nellie always returned to. By the time she was 30, she had such name recognition that she could always find work. But her life took a different turn when at the age of 31, she married 73 year old millionaire Robert Seaman. The relationship is intriguing and Kroeger does a good job describing the interaction between the two.
She also became an inventor and was issued a number of patents related to the business. All of this was unknown to me and I found it very interesting, with the exception of the extensive litigation. I found it astounding how uninformed she was about the war overall and specifically the stance of the United States.