Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who helped pioneer the science-fiction genre. He is best known for novels such as A Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Verne is often referred to as the “Father of science fiction” as he wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before navigable aircraft and practical submarines were invented, and before any means of space travel had been devised.
In 1857 he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, one of the most important French publishers of the 19th century. Hetzel’s advice improved Verne’s writings, which until then had been rejected by other publishers. Hetzel read a draft of Verne’s story about the balloon exploration of Africa, which had previously been rejected on the grounds that it was “too scientific”. With Hetzel’s help, he rewrote the story and in 1863 it was published in book form as Five Weeks in a Balloon (Cinq semaines en ballon). Acting on Hetzel’s advice, Verne added comical accents to his novels, changed sad endings into happy ones, and toned down various political messages.
From that point on, and for nearly a quarter of a century, scarcely a year passed in which Hetzel did not publish one or more of his stories. In 1888, he entered politics and was elected town councillor of Amiens where he championed several improvements and served for 15 years. In 1905, while ill with diabetes, Verne died at his home.