The Reluctant Traveler: Elizabeth Bisland overcame her very public loss to Nellie Bly

Elizabeth BislandSometimes we don’t get to choose the journeys we take. Or even have time to pack.

Elizabeth Bisland Whetmore was drafted into service by The Cosmopolitan to compete with Nellie Bly’s 1889 stunt to travel around the world in under 80 days for the New York World. (Bly completed the journey in 72 days; then-Bisland took 76.)

Even a quick skim of Bisland Whetmore’s book about her trip, In Seven Stages: A Flying Trip Around the World, makes it clear that her heart wasn’t in it. She’d never before traveled abroad, and much of her account is fixated on complaining about her (lack of) luggage, recounting inane logistics of the journey, and commenting on her un-photogenic traveling companions.

I mean, seriously, she opens the book with a detailed description of the morning she found out about the trip, complete with a reference to her bowel movement. I shit you not:Read More »