Around the world in Bly's footsteps

Around the world in Bly's footsteps

Freelance writer Rosemary J Brown was so inspired by the late American journalist Nellie Bly that she decided to follow in her footsteps - 125 years later.

Ms Bly, known for her investigative and undercover reporting, travelled around the world in 72 days in 1889.

Ms Brown decided to retrace Ms Bly's steps to "put her back on the map".

She tells The New Paper on Sunday: "In today's world, glamour seems to have supplanted grit when it comes to choosing our role models.

"I am hoping to change that."

The Briton visited some of the same places Ms Bly did - France, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.

Here, Ms Brown stopped by the National Museum. It was known as Raffles Museum at the time of Ms Bly's visit.

She adds: "A lesser-known fact was that she bought a monkey in Singapore and it became an icon in her travels."

Ms Brown stayed in the same hotel in Colombo as Ms Bly did. But she says of her Japan visit: "Sadly, in Yokohama, the 1923 earthquake wiped out most of the places she visited."

There were two places that Ms Brown is certain she and Ms Bly stood at the same spots: French author Jules Verne's home in Amiens, France, and inside the belly of the Great Buddha in Kamakura, Japan.

"Unfortunately, there were no pictorial documents of those times," Ms Brown says.

While Ms Bly lives on in her hometown of Apollo in Pennsylvania, US, she has been forgotten elsewhere.

COURAGEOUS

Ms Brown says: "I want to inspire the young, particularly women, with Nellie's courage, determination and sense of adventure. What she accomplished was especially remarkable - during the Victorian times, women were supposed to 'know their place'."

Ms Bly was celebrated for her investigative work, earning recognition in 1887 for her expose on the conditions of mental patients at Blackwell's Island in New York City.

She achieved further fame after New York World, the newspaper she worked for, sent her on a trip around the world in 1889.

juditht@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Dec 14, 2014.
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