Science Fiction Studies

#95 = Volume 32, Part 1 = March 2005

Jean-Michel Margot

Jules Verne, Playwright

During his lifetime, Jules Verne had only one publisher for his novels, Pierre-Jules Hetzel (1814-1886). The most important French publisher of the nineteenth century, Hetzel also published the literary works of Alphonse Daudet, Alexandre Dumas, Charles Dickens, George Sand, Victor Hugo, and Théophile Gautier.1 His stable of illustrators included, among many others, Léon Benett, Emile Bayard, Georges Bertall, Gustave Doré, Eugène Froment, Tony Johannot, and Ernest Meissonier.2 In 1873, Hetzel handed over the management of the publishing company to his son, Louis-Jules Hetzel, who continued to publish Verne’s well-known geographic and scientific novels until he sold the company to the publishing giant Hachette in 1914.3

Although he is best known as a writer of extraordinary adventures, Jules Verne—one of the most translated novelists in the world—was also a prolific playwright. At the age of thirty-four, he achieved international fame with the publication of his first novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863). Before that, however, the majority of his literary activity was devoted to the theater. Verne’s theatrical productions can be divided into three categories: the plays he wrote during his youth (before he met Hetzel), his operas and operettas, and the pièces à grand spectacle (great spectacle plays) inspired by his novels.

Plays written before 1863. Verne’s biographers mention several plays, both tragedies and vaudeville-like comedies, written before he was twenty.4 At age seventeen, Verne supposedly submitted a tragedy in verse to a puppet theater in Nantes, his birthplace. The piece was rejected, which is all that we know of it. The text is lost and even the title is unknown.

In 1981, the city of Nantes bought Verne’s manuscripts from the Verne family. To consolidate the copyrights on the unpublished texts, the Municipal Library of Nantes published thirty typed copies of these manuscripts—known as Manuscrits nantais—in three volumes that totalled 1,787 pages. Thus scholars have access to most of the writings of the young Verne, including short plays such as Alexandre VI, La Conspiration des poudres (The Powder Conspiracy), Le Quart d’heure de Rabelais (The Fifteen Minutes of Rabelais), and Don Galaor.5

In 1848—at the age of twenty and still a student—Verne was sent to Paris by his father to attend law school (he graduated in 1850 with a licence en droit). The young Verne’s first priority, however, was to become known in theatrical circles. Through one of his uncles, Verne met Alexandre Dumas père, who “adopted” him and who so impressed him that, forty years later, Alexandre Dumas fils wrote to Verne to say that Verne was, more than himself, the true son of the elder Dumas.6

Dumas opened his Théâtre Historique with La Jeunesse des Mousquetaires (The Youth of the Musketeers) on February 17, 1849, with Verne as a guest in Dumas’s own box. Mentored by Dumas, Verne produced his first staged play, Les Pailles rompues (The Broken Straws), in 1850. Inspired by Marivaux, this short play is a witty and affected conversation between a coquettish woman and her jealous husband.7 In the dedication, Verne expressed his gratitude to Dumas, who obviously helped him both to write the play and to stage it in his theater.

After Marivaux, the young playwright took Musset as a model.8 Still exploring various dramatic possibilities, Verne wrote Leonardo da Vinci in 1851, which became Monna Lisa at a reading at the Académie d’Amiens in 1874 and in its first printing in 1974.9 In this bittersweet explanation of the sibylline smile of La Giaconda, Leonardo is so immersed in his art that he forgets the beautiful Lisa, who would so willingly respond to his slightest attention. The description of Leonardo, unskillful with the woman he still loves, is a metaphor for Verne, the shy introvert.

Verne himself acknowledged that he was helped in writing the Vinci play by Michel Carré, the prolific librettist, who with Jules Barbier produced many well-known French operas between 1850 and 1870.10 Interestingly, in 1851, Barbier and Carré brought to the Odéon a fantastic drama, Les Contes d’Hoffman (The Tales of Hoffmann). Thirty years later, Jacques Offenbach11 produced his own version—the last and one of the most remarkable French opéras comiques12—and this production inspired Jules Verne’s work on his own Voyage à travers l’impossible (Journey through the Impossible, 1882).

In the 1850s, it was common to stage so-called “comedy proverbs,” short pieces that illustrated various proverbs. One such piece written by Verne remained unstaged, but it was published in 1852 in a French family magazine, Le Musée des familles, under the title of Les Châteaux en Californie, ou, Pierre qui roule n’amasse pas mousse (The Castles in California, or, A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss). In this piece, Verne played with words and told jokes that, while perhaps innocent, nevertheless were often full of racy humor. Taking advantage of similar sounding words such as coeur (heart) and queue (tail), Verne inserted many double meanings into his text. The most astonishing fact is that such a play was printed in the serious Musée des familles, whose targeted readership, the French family, necessarily also included children.

In Les Heureux du jour (The Happy of the Day, 1853), Verne criticized Parisian society, ridiculing its vanity and greed. His style was already more mature and his writing more solid than in previous works. In Onze jours de siège (Eleven Days of Siege, 1861), Verne returned to vaudeville (light comedy). Learning that her marriage is invalid, Madame refuses to sleep with Monsieur, who keeps her captive. This is a modest plot upon which to hang three acts, but the one-act piece that preceded it—Un Mari à la Porte (A Husband at the Door), written in 1859 by Delacour and Morand and with music by Offenbach—is delightful.13

Robert Pourvoyeur, the specialist in Vernian theater, points out that among the many plays written in the 1850s, several, especially Un Neveu d’Amérique, ou, les deux Frontignac (An American Nephew), demonstrate how Verne’s writing improved (5-30). This play was written in 1861, but it was never staged and it remained unpublished by Hetzel until 1873.14 Based upon the original and hilarious idea of taking out a life annuity and death insurance on the same character, it is without a doubt Verne’s best play. The brilliantly funny yet natural dialogue is delivered at breakneck speed even as it maintains the depth of the characters.

By 1861, Verne had fully mastered his talent as a playwright, after having tried out several literary routes (plays, operas, operettas, and opéras comiques). An American Nephew, an excellent satiric work, suggests what kind of playwright Verne could have become with a little more maturity and experience. But Verne’s fateful meeting with Hetzel was just around the corner and Verne’s literary career was destined to explore “Known and Unknown Worlds,” to recall the subtitle of the Voyages Extraordinaires.15

Musical theater. Many scholars and biographers rightly insist on Verne’s strong interest in music. So it is no wonder that the future novelist should insert music into his plays, producing pieces such as operas, operettas, and opéras comiques. In so doing he was completely of his time, since operas were considered, at least in France during the second half of the nineteenth century, to be the highest form of both music and theater. In his novels as well, Verne often makes references to musical pieces, mainly to operas. Characters and narrators in his novels often quote the operas and operettas of his time, some of which are still well known today, while others have been completely forgotten. Pourvoyeur notes eighteen instances in Claudius Bombarnac (1892); even in Propeller Island (1895), several pages are dedicated to Mozart and Gounod’s study of Don Juan (Pourvoyeur 12).

Let us now turn our attention to Aristide Hignard, who, like Verne, was born in Nantes.16 Hignard and Verne had apartments on the same floor in Paris. They became friends and Verne wrote the lyrics for Hignard’s music. Although some Verne biographers suggest that Hignard was a talented musician, there is no doubt that, without his friendship with Verne, he would be completely forgotten today. He was also unlucky—like the Marquis of Ivry, who produced Les Amants de Vérone (The Lovers of Verona) in the same year that Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (Romeo and Juliet) appeared—in writing a Hamlet, his best (or perhaps least worst?) piece in 1868, the same year as the official musician Ambroise Thomas produced an opéra comique, also entitled Hamlet.17 Verne wrote four pieces with Hignard and it is likely that they would have enjoyed greater success if the composer had been, for example, an Offenbach.

In the meantime, Dumas lost his Théâtre Historique, which was remodeled and named the Théâtre Lyrique in 1852. The new director, Seveste,18 was looking for a secretary and, on the recommendation of Dumas and Talexy, he hired Jules Verne.19 So, with his first job, Verne was directly confronted with the life of the theater, with the various personalities of its musicians and artists, with financial problems, and with bills to pay. It is likely that he did a good job: in three years some fifty pieces were staged in his theater.

Verne’s own first musical piece performed on stage is an opéra comique in one act, Le Colin-Maillard (The Blind Man’s Buff, 1853). Inspired by Beaumarchais’s Le Mariage de Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), and with the collaboration of Michel Carré, the plot involves four couples playing the title game in the woods on a Sunday afternoon.

Two years later, in 1855, with the collaboration of the same Michel Carré and again with music by Aristide Hignard, Verne produced Les Compagnons de la Marjolaine (The Knights of the Daffodil), another one-act opéra comique. The story is simple: a young ferryman gets over his cowardice—with the help of numerous drinks—to save the woman he loves from being raped. This piece is better than the first one. Verne’s talent for writing lyrics has improved and the text generates the music.20 In 1855, Offenbach opened his own theater in Paris and gave Verne the opportunity to stage his musical Monsieur de Chimpanzé (Mr. Chimpanzee) at Les Bouffes Parisiens. With music by Hignard, this one-act operetta concerns the problem of evolution: is the character in question a human or a monkey? Verne treated this subject in a hilarious, even slapstick, way and he would later tackle it again in his 1901 novel, The Aerial Village.

In 1861 Verne was back on stage at the Théâtre Lyrique with another show written with Carré and Hignard, L’Auberge des Ardennes (The Inn of the Ardennes). This opéra comique uses the familiar situation of an inn with no rooms available. A young newlywed wants a room for himself and his bride and the only solution is to frighten another tourist into fleeing and making his room available. Of course, the other tourist is an attorney who has papers which make the newlywed wealthy. If Lecoq, who specialized in comedies about thwarted wedding nights, had written the music instead of Hignard, perhaps L’Auberge des Ardennes would still be on stage today.

Plays inspired by the Voyages Extraordinaires. Following the appearance of Verne’s first four novels—Five Weeks in a Balloon (1863), Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), From the Earth to the Moon (1865), and Voyages and Adventures of Captain Hatteras (1866)—Verne’s publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel gave them the collective title of Voyages Extraordinaires, announcing this in his Preface to Hatteras.21 Eight years later, on November 7, 1874, Verne suddenly became famous as a playwright as well as a novelist, thanks to his production of Le Tour du monde en 80 jours (Around the World in 80 Days) at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin in Paris. This hugely successful production had a first run of 415 performances. After more than ten years as Hetzel’s employee, and barely making a living, Verne became virtually overnight a successful and wealthy playwright. Newspaper and magazine articles written by his contemporaries indicate that he was almost better known during this period as a playwright than as a novelist.22

Why and how could Verne produce such successful plays adapted from his novels? In the 1870s and 1880s, there was no television, no movies, no radio. In cities like Paris, theaters and opera were the only entertainment. The Third Republic wanted to forget the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and the Commune; plays and operas offered the best “escape” entertainment possible. While the dazzling opéra bouffe23 of the Second Empire was being replaced by pleasant bourgeois reductions of republican opéras comiques, fairy plays and pièces à grand spectacle were also flourishing.

Around the World in 80 Days24 brought something new and extravagant to the Paris stage: it featured new landscapes, exotic people, live elephants and serpents, natural cataclysms, and strange transportational vehicles for the audience to enjoy without leaving the comfort of their theater seats. The so-called pièce à grand spectacle was born, and for decades Parisians went to see these plays just as the public goes to see blockbuster movies today. Around the World in 80 Days was the most successful of those numerous pièces à grand spectacle of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, with more than two thousand performances between 1874 and 1900. For that reason, it is considered to be the prototype of this kind of play. Nothing was neglected, including ballets and music written especially for it, sumptuous sets, and clever machinery. The effects produced by these grand dramatic spectacles were the forerunners of what Hollywood special effects offer to audiences today.

How Around the World in 80 Days came to exist is still a controversial point in literary history. The story was first developed in 1872 as a play and not a novel. Although the concept was Verne’s, he wrote the first draft of the play with Edouard Cadol.25 It was rejected by several theater directors. Cadol, who was not easy to work with, became angry and impatient and was soon replaced by Adolphe d’Ennery,26 who was to pièces à grand spectacle what Ray Harryhausen later was to Hollywood special effects. At the end of the nineteenth century in Paris, having the collaboration of d’Ennery was a guarantee of success for any playwright. In the meantime, without any help or input from Cadol, Verne wrote the novel Around the World in Eighty Days, published in 1873. It was already a bestseller by the time the play premiered in November 1874.27

As well as Around the World in 80 Days, D’Ennery helped Verne bring several other plays to the stage: Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (The Children of Captain Grant, 1875), Michael Strogoff (1878), and Voyage à travers l’impossible (Journey through the Impossible,1882). The first three are inspired by novels with the same titles and are part of Verne’s series of Voyages Extraordinaires. The last is by far the most interesting and warrants further discussion.

Journey through the Impossible is an intriguing play—one that could still be produced today. Unique among Verne’s works for containing the greatest number of science-fiction elements, it is the only one of the four pièces à grand spectacle written with d’Ennery that was not adapted from a previously published Verne novel. Journey through the Impossible is an original story. Unlike most of Verne’s work, and irrespective of its science-fictional features, its plot is not just “extraordinary,” it is wholly impossible. And, as the title suggests, it constitutes a fundamental departure from Verne’s other work.28

In most of Verne’s novels, the heroes never reach their goal: in Journey to the Center of the Earth, Professor Lidenbrock, Axel, and Hans travel far beneath the Earth’s surface, but never reach the Center. Captain Hatteras and his crew of the Voyages and Adventures of Captain Hatteras are unable to set foot on the North Pole because of a huge, active volcano located there. Barbicane, Nicholl, and Michel Ardan travel From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon without actually landing. For once in Jules Verne’s works, however, all the travelers of Journey through the Impossible reach their goals. Between the prologue and the epilogue, the hero goes to the center of the Earth in the first act, to the bottom of the seas in the second act, and to the Planet Altor in the third. As such, this play stands in stark contrast to everything Verne represents in terms of his legendary attention to scientific verisimilitude. For example, in an interview with the British journalist Gordon Jones in 1904, Verne insisted that he was not a visionary and that the futuristic aspects of his fiction

are merely the natural outcome of the scientific trend of modern thought, and as such have doubtless been predicted by scores of others besides myself. Their coming was inevitable, whether anticipated or not, and the most that I can claim is to have looked perhaps a little farther into the future than the majority of my critics. (666)

To drive this point home, Verne then contrasted his own approach to that of his literary rival H.G. Wells, saying

I consider him, as a purely imaginative writer, to be deserving of very high praise, but our methods are entirely different. I have always made a point in my romances of basing my so-called inventions upon a groundwork of actual fact.... The creations of Mr. Wells, on the other hand, belong unreservedly to an age and degree of scientific knowledge far removed from the present. (670)

And yet here stands the fantastical Journey through the Impossible, a play in three acts, performed over two decades earlier—a play that completely contradicts the above statements!

Using the same structure as The Tales of Hoffmann, where the hero has to choose between love and art, Journey through the Impossible dramatizes a struggle between love and knowledge. Its hero is George Hatteras—the son of Captain Hatteras who discovered the North Pole in Voyages and Adventures of Captain Hatteras—who has to choose between love and knowledge, good and evil, happiness and science. The Tempter is Doctor Ox, resurrected by Verne from his short story of the same name. The Guardian Angel is Volsius, who appears in the first act as Otto Lidenbrock, the main character of Journey to the Center of the Earth. In the second act, he appears as Captain Nemo, the main character of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, and in the third act as Michel Ardan, traveler From the Earth to the Moon. Inventing no new characters, Verne took existing heroes from the Voyages Extraordinaires and let them travel “through the impossible.” George Hatteras is accompanied by his fiancée, Eva, who shares his adventures—another exception in Verne’s works, where usually the women stay home and send the hero alone on his extraordinary voyage—and helps Volsius to save him from the evil scientific knowledge proffered by Doctor Ox.

Journey through the Impossible was written by Verne at a turning point in his life and literary career. In the first half of his life, he wrote novels and plays in which science was a positive good and engineers and scientists worked to improve the future of humanity. The typical character of this first period is Cyrus Smith, the engineer of The Mysterious Island (1875). In the second half of his life, Verne wrote novels (and very few plays) in which science was morally questionable, used as it was by evil characters to create human misfortune in works such as Robur the Conqueror (1886), Master of the World (1904), and The Secret of Wilhelm Storitz (1910). Journey through the Impossible is one of the most intriguing, surprising, and important later works by Jules Verne. It is greatly ironic that the most overtly science-fictional narrative in Verne’s vast oeuvre is a play, not a novel, and that it remains largely forgotten today.29

1. Louis Marie Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897) was a French novelist of the naturalist literary school. Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870), one of the most famous French writers of the nineteenth century, is best known today for historical adventure novels including The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. The works of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), the great Victorian novelist, are characterized by attacks on social evils, injustice, and hypocrisy. George Sand (1804-1876) was the pseudonym of Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, French Romantic novelist and also a member of the naturalist literary current. Victor Hugo (1802-1885), nineteenth-century France’s most important Romantic writer, is best known in the Anglo-Saxon world for his novels The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Les Miserables. Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) was a French poet, novelist, and critic.

2. Léon Benett (1838-1917) was the pseudonym of Hippolyte Léon Benet, French illustrator and civil servant who contributed illustrations to more than twenty-five of Verne’s novels. Emile Bayard (1837-1891) was a French painter and illustrator who was Victor Hugo’s favorite illustrator. Georges Bertall (1820-1882) was the pseudonym of Albert Arnoux, French humorist and illustrator who illustrated works by, among others, Hans Christian Andersen and James Fenimore Cooper. Gustave Doré (1832-1883) was the most popular and successful French illustrator of the mid-nineteenth century, widely known for his illustrations of texts such as Dante’s Inferno, Cervantes’s Don Quixote, and the Bible. Eugène Froment (1844-1900) was a French illustrator and engraver. Tony Johannot (1803-1852) was a French illustrator whose drawings enriched the works of Walter Scott and James Fenimore Cooper. Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891) was a French academic painter whose works hang today in most of the world’s major museums.

3. One of the most important French publishing companies, Hachette was founded in 1824 and is still in business today.

4. The two best English biographies on Verne are by Jean Jules-Verne and Herbert R. Lottman.

5. The titles of Verne’s novels are given only in English; original French titles with English translations are given for all theatrical works.

6. Alexandre Dumas the younger (1824-1895), French playwright and novelist, was the illegitimate son of Dumas the elder and the chief creator of the nineteenth-century comedy of manners. His first important play, La Dame aux camélias, known in English as Camille, was a sensation.

7. Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux (1688-1763), French playwright and novelist, was popular for his numerous comedies, including Love in Livery and The Legacy, which analyze the sentiments and complications of love in a graceful, albeit often precious, style.

8. Alfred de Musset (1810-1857), French Romantic poet and playwright, is best remembered for his poetry. Much influenced by Shakespeare and Schiller, he wrote the first modern dramas in the French language.

9. Situated north of Paris, Amiens is the capital city of the Picardie and the site of the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Verne lived in Amiens during the second half of his life and, as a member of the Municipality and of the local Academy, was one of its most eminent citizens.

10. Michel Carré (1819-1872), a successful French writer of libretti, worked with Gounod, Offenbach, Meyerbeer, and Bizet. Paul Jules Barbier (1825-1901) was a French poet and a prolific librettist. With Carré, he wrote the lyrics of Galatea, Romeo and Juliet, Paul and Virginie, The Queen of Saba, and Gounod’s Faust.

11. Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), son of a Cologne synagogue cantor, was trained as a violinist at the Paris Conservatoire and initially found employment as a cellist at the Opéra-Comique. He followed this with a successful early career as a virtuoso on the instrument, for which he wrote a number of works, including a concerto militaire and a concertino. Offenbach was conductor at the Théâtre Français for five years, but in 1855 he rented his own theatre, Les Bouffes Parisiens, where his early light-hearted works for the stage were performed. His successful career, devoted largely to operettas and opéras comiques, continued until his death in 1880.

12. The opéra comique (comic opera), an exclusively French style of opera, developed from earlier popular shows performed by troupes entertaining spectators at fairs. An opéra comique consists of spoken dialogue alternating with musical numbers, including arias and orchestral music. The Opéra-Comique theater in Paris was founded in 1715. The repertoire of the opéra comique contains works as well known as Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment, Berlioz’s Les Troyens, Bizet’s Carmen, Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Verdi’s Falstaff, and Debussy’s Pelléas et Melisande.

13. A. Charles Delacour was the pseudonym of Alfred Charlemagne Lartigue (1817-1883). He and Léon Morand (182?-191?) were French librettists.

14. It was probably written with Charles Wallut (1829-?), French writer and director of the Musée des familles (Family Museum) between 1863 and 1881. Un Neveu d’Amérique ou les deux Frontignac is available in a 2004 English translation by Frank Morlock at <>.

15. Until recently, scholars and journalists could only speculate upon the relationship between Verne and his publisher, on the meager basis of the fictionalized 1928 biography by Marguerite Allotte de la Fuye, Jules Verne, sa vie, son oeuvre. Now three volumes of the letters between Verne and the elder Hetzel have been made available, Correspondance inédite de Jules Verne et de Pierre-Jules Hetzel, edited by Olivier Dumas, Piero Gondolo della Riva, and Volker Dehs. See Arthur B. Evans’s review-essay of these volumes, “Hetzel and Verne: Collaboration and Conflict.”
    Two more volumes, which will include correspondence between Verne and the younger Hetzel, are scheduled to appear in 2005 and 2006. Taken together, this voluminous correspondence allows a much better understanding of—and raises new questions about—the complex relationship between the publisher and his author.

16. Aristide Hignard (1822-1898), the son of a Nantes ship owner, was a French composer who also taught musical writing; Emmanuel Chabrier was one of his students.

17. Ambroise Thomas (1811-1896) was a French composer of operas.

18. Edmond Sébastien Seveste (?-1852) hired Jules Verne and died shortly afterward. His brother, Jules-Henri (?–1854), took over the direction of the Théâtre Lyrique, but died two years later, leaving Verne unemployed.

19. Adrien Talexy (1821-1880) was a French composer of popular music, mainly polkas and mazurkas.

20. Les Compagnons de la Marjolaine is available in a 2004 English translation by Frank Morlock at <>.

21. This Preface was not included in either the British or American editions of the novel; it remained available only in French until it was translated by Arthur B. Evans and included in his Jules Verne Rediscovered (29-30).

22. See, for example, some of the articles by Verne’s contemporaries collected in my Jules Verne en son temps (2004).

23. Opéra bouffe, originated by Offenbach when he was director of Les Bouffes Parisiens, is a type of witty and cynical lyrical composition that evolved out of the opéra comique and, during the final years of the Second Empire, became the French operetta. That period of transition was characterized by a spirit of easygoing skepticism that seemed to permeate society. Everything was approached with a light heart, possibly to hide any feelings of disquietude caused by the instability of the régime. After the war of 1870 the taste of the public appeared to undergo a change, and the operetta, which combined certain characteristics of the opéra bouffe with those of the older opéra comique, came into vogue.

24. Verne scholars and specialists refer to the novel as Around the World in Eighty Days and to the play as Around the World in 80 Days.

25. Edouard Cadol (1831-1898) was a playwright, a lecture-examiner of the Comédie française, and author of Les Inutiles (1868; The Unnecessaries).

26. Adolphe Philippe (1811-1899), alias Adolphe d’Ennery (also written Dennery), was a playwright whose best known play remains Les Deux orphelines (The Two Orphans). By turn a lawyer’s clerk, a painter, and a journalist, in 1831 he made his début as a dramatist as part author of Emile, ou le fils d’un Pair de France. From that date he was sole or part author of more than 280 plays, no less than five of them having been produced on the Paris stage at one time. He adapted his work to the taste of the public and achieved success upon success, rapidly making a fortune. His plays were written mainly in collaboration with others. Before his death he donated to the state one of his houses, containing a collection of Chinese and Japanese vases of great value. This collection of oriental art gathered by his wife can be seen today at the d’Ennery Museum in Paris.

27. Cadol and Verne each received 25% of the play’s profits, while d’Ennery received 50%.

28. Journey through the Impossible opened in Paris at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin—where Around the World in 80 Days played eight years earlier—on November 25, 1882. The play was presented 97 times (43 in 1882 and 54 in 1883). No original manuscript copy is known to exist and the text was considered lost until a copy was discovered in the Archives of the Censorship Office of the Third Republic in 1978. (The Censorship Office was a heritage of the Second Empire and every play was copied by anonymous clerks before being performed.)

29. An English translation of Journey through the Impossible was published by Prometheus Books in 2003 (<>).

Allotte de la Fuye, Marguerite. Jules Verne, sa vie, son oeuvre. Paris: Simon Kra, 1928.
Dumas, Olivier, Piero Gondolo della Riva, and Volker Dehs, eds. Correspondance inédite de Jules Verne et de Pierre-Jules Hetzel (1863-1886). 3 Vols. Geneva: Slatkine, 1999-2002.
Evans, Arthur B. “Hetzel and Verne: Collaboration and Conflict.” SFS 28.1 (March 2001): 97-106.
─────. Jules Verne Rediscovered: Didacticism and the Scientific Novel. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1988.
Jones, Gordon. “Jules Verne at Home.” Temple Bar 129 (June 1904): 664-71.
Jules-Verne, Jean. Jules Verne: A Biography. Trans. Roger Greaves. New York: Taplinger,1976.
Lottman, Herbert R. Jules Verne: An Exploratory Biography. New York: St. Martin’s, 1996.
Margot, Jean-Michel, ed. Jules Verne en son temps. Amiens: Encrage, 2004.
Pourvoyeur, Robert. “Introduction: Jules Verne et le théâtre.” Clovis Dardentor by Jules Verne. Paris: Union générale d’éditions (coll. 10/18, no. 1308), série Jules Verne inattendu, 1979. 5-30.

Titles, in both French and English, are organized chronologically. Annotations include the following information: a) type of work (e.g., comedy, tragedy, opera); b) possible Verne collaborators; c) date and place of the premiere performance; d) number of first-run performances; e) miscellaneous comments; and f) publication information where relevant. MN = Manuscrits nantais, BSJV = Bulletin de la Société Jules Verne

Untitled verse tragedy; for the Puppet Théâtre Riquiqui in Nantes; the text, mentioned in biographies, is lost.

Untitled vaudeville piece; only Act 2 remains; published in MN I (51-82).

Alexandre VI; five-act verse tragedy; dated mid-1847; alternate title: Cesar Borgia; published in MN II (441-553).

La Conspiration des poudres (The Powder Conspiracy); five-act verse tragedy; published in MN II (555-725).

Une Promenade en mer (An Excursion at Sea); one-act vaudeville piece; published in MN I (83-145).

Le Quart d’heure de Rabelais (The Fifteen Minutes of Rabelais); one-act verse comedy; published in MN I (147-71).

Don Galaor; one-act comedy; published in MN I (9-20; synopsis only).

Les Pailles rompues (The Broken Straws); one-act verse comedy; possible collaboration with Alexandre Dumas, both père and fils; premiered at the Théâtre Historique on June 12, 1850; 12 or 15 performances through June 25, 1850; revival in Nantes on November 7, 1850; revival at the Théâtre du Gymnase from 1853 to 1857 (45 performances); revival at the Théâtre du Gymnase in 1871 and 1872 (40 performances); published by Beck (1850), and in Revue JV 11 (2001): 33-94.

Un Drame sous Louis XV (A Drama under Louis XV); five-act verse tragedy; alternate title: A Drama under the Regency; published in MN II (727-841).

Abd’allah; two-act vaudeville piece; published in MN I (39-43; 173-252).

Le Coq de bruyère (The Wood Grouse); published in MN I (21-27; synopsis only).

On a souvent besoin d’un plus petit que soi (Little Friends May Prove Great Friends); published in MN I (29-37; synopsis only).

La Guimard (The Guimard); two-act comedy; published in MN I (289-360).

Quiridine et Quiridnerit (Quiridine and Quiridnerit); three-act “Italian Comedy” in verse; published in MN II (843-956).

La Mille et deuxième nuit (The Thousand and Second Night); one-act libretto; music by Aristide Hignard.

Les Savants (The Scholars); three-act “Observation Comedy”; manuscript is lost.

Les Fiancés bretons (The Fiancés of Britanny); manuscript is lost.

De Charybde en Scylla (From Charybdis to Scylla); comic one-act “Character Study” in verse; published in MN II (957-1005).

Monna Lisa (1851-1855); one-act verse comedy; reading at the Academy of Amiens on May 22, 1874; alternate titles: The Jocund, Leonardo da Vinci; published in Cahiers de l’Herne (Paris 1974); published by L’Herne (1995).

Les Châteaux en Californie, ou, Pierre qui roule n’amasse pas mousse (Castles in California, or A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss); one-act proverb comedy; collaboration with Pitre-Chevalier; staged in Torino, Italy, on April 28, 1969; published in Musée des familles (June 1852).

La Tour de Montlhéry (Tower of Monthléry); five-act drama; collaboration with Charles Wallut; prologue published in MN I (361-97); complete manuscript is in Amiens, in the former della Riva collection.

Le Colin-Maillard (The Blind Man’s Buff); one-act opéra comique; collaboration with Michel Carré; music by Aristide Hignard; premiered at the Théâtre lyrique on April 28, 1853; 45 performances; libretto published by Lévy (1853); score published by Alfred Ikelmer (1853); published in BSJV 120 (1996).

Un Fils adoptif (The Adoptive Son); comedy; collaboration with Charles Wallut; broadcast on French radio on April 5, 1950; published in BSJV 140 (2001); English translation by Frank Morlock available at < html>.

Les Compagnons de la Marjolaine (The Knights of the Daffodil); one-act opéra comique; collaboration with Michel Carré; music by Aristide Hignard; premiered at the Théâtre lyrique on June 6, 1855; 24 performances; libretto published by Lévy (1855); published in BSJV 143 (2002); English translation by Frank Morlock available at < morlock/knights.html>.

Les Heureux du jour (The Happy of the Day, 1853, 1855-1856); five-act comic “Study of Manners” in verse; published in MN II (1007-1136).

Guerre aux tyrans (War to Tyrants); one-act verse comedy; published in MN II (1137-1208).

Au bord de l’Adour (On the Bank of the Adour); one-act verse comedy; published in MN II (1209-55).

Monsieur de Chimpanzé (Mr. Chimpanzee); one-act operetta; possible collaboration with Michel Carré; music by Aristide Hignard; premiered at the Bouffes-Parisiens on February 17, 1858; ran until March 3, 1858; published in BSJV 57 (1981); English translation by Frank Morlock available at < chimpdex.htm>.

Le Page de Madame Malbrough (Madame Malbrough’s Page); one-act operetta; written under the pseudnoym E. Vierne; music by Frédéric Barbier; premiered at the Théâtre des Folies-Nouvelles on October 28, 1858; alternate title: Une Robe de Madame Malbrough (A Dress of Madame Malbrough).

L’Auberge des Ardennes (The Inn of the Ardennes); one-act opéra comique; collaboration with Michel Carré; music by Aristide Hignard; premiered at the Théâtre lyrique on September 1, 1860 (20 performances); published by Lévy (1860).

Onze jours de siège (Eleven Days of Siege,1854-1860); three-act comedy; collaboration with Charles Wallut; premiered at the Théâtre du vaudeville on June 1, 1861; published by Lévy (1861); English translation by Frank Morlock available at <>.

Un Neveu d’Amérique ou les deux Frontignac (An American Nephew, or, The Two Frontignac); three-act comedy; perhaps reworked by Edouard Cadol and Eugène Labiche; premiered at the Théâtre Cluny on April 17, 1873; ran for two months; published by Hetzel (1873); published with with Clovis Dardentor (10/18, 1979).

Les Sabines (The Sabines, 1857, 1867); opéra-bouffe, or two- or three-act operetta (only the first act still exists); collaboration with Charles Wallut; published in MN I (399-438).

Le Pôle Nord (The North Pole); published in MN I (45-48; synopsis only).

Le Tour du monde en 80 jours (Around the World in 80 Days, 1873-1874); five-act pièce à grand spectacle with prologue (15 tableaux); collaboration with Adolphe d’Ennery; music by J.-J. Debillemont; premiered at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin on November 7, 1874 (415 performances); published by Hetzel (1879).

Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (The Children of Captain Grant); five-act pièce à grand spectacle with prologue (13 tableaux); collaboration with Adolphe d’Ennery; music by J.-J. Debillemont; premiered at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin on December 26, 1878 (113 performances); published by Hetzel (1881).

Le Docteur Ox (Doctor Ox); three-act opéra-bouffe (6 tableaux); libretto by Philippe Gille and Arnold Mortier (with Verne’s approval); music by Jacques Offenbach; premiered at the Théâtre des Variétés (42 performances).

Michael Strogoff; five-act pièce à grand spectacle with prologue (16 tableaux); collaboration with Adolphe d’Ennery; premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet on November 17, 1880 (386 performances); published by Hetzel (1881); English translation by Frank Morlock available at <http://www.blackmask. com/books123c/ strogoffdex.htm>.

Voyage à travers l’impossible (Journey through the Impossible); three-act fantasy pièce à grand spectacle (20 tableaux); collaboration with Adolphe d’Ennery; music by Oscar de Lagoanère; premiered at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin on November 25, 1882 (43 performances in 1882; 54 performances in 1883); published in Paris by Pauvert (1981); published in Amherst, NY, by Prometheus Books (2003).

Kéraban-le-Têtu (Keraban the Headstrong); five-act play (20 tableaux); premiered at the Théâtre de la Gaîté lyrique on September 3, 1883 (49 performances); published in BSJV 85-86 (1988).

Mathias Sandorf; five-act pièce à grand spectacle (16 tableaux); libretto by William Busnach and Georges Maurens; premiered at the Théâtre de l’Ambigu (85 performances); published in Paris by Société Jules Verne (1992); published in Pazin, Croatia, by Jules Verne Klub (2002).

Les Tribulations d’un Chinois en Chine (The Tribulations of a Chinese Man in China); the manuscript is lost; collaboration declined by Adolphe d’Ennery.

Date Unknown
Les Tribulations d’un Chinois en Chine (The Tribulations of a Chinese Man in China); three-act comedy by Claude Farrère and Charles Méré; published in Paris by Hachette (1931). This play was inspired by one of Verne’s novels.

Since Verne’s death, there have been many plays and operas based on his novels, such as Henri Varna and Jack Ledru’s Michael Strogoff (1965), Gavin Bryars and Blake Morrison’s Doctor Ox (1998), and Philippe Hersant’s The Castle in the Carpathians (1992). The complete listing of these posthumous productions remains to be written.

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