Ian B. Thompson

Jules Verne, Geography and Nineteenth Century Scotland

A French version of this article was published in La Géographie: Acta Géographica, December, 2003, 48-71.
Jules Verne aspired to be a geographer and claimed to have defined the “geographical” novel. He also had an emotional bond with Scotland and situated three of his novels there. This paper examines the validity of his geographical credentials by analysing the content of his three very contrasted Scottish novels. The conclusion is reached that although Verne depicts geographical settings authentically, and the elaborate itineraries are generally accurate, Verne’s fascination with Scottish culture tends to dominate the narrative. The paper draws on field research and newly available archival evidence to cast new light on Verne’s travels in Scotland.


Abundant research has been devoted to the geographical content in literary fiction. Evocative writing, like Hardy’s “Wessex” novels for example, are redolent of a distinctive sense of place. Less attention has been devoted to authors who explicitly centred their works on specific geographical locales, their human and physical characteristics, and on a scientific as well as a literary exposition.

Jules Verne is globally known as a prolific author of travel adventures, often with a science fiction thrust. Less well known in the English-speaking world are his credentials as a geographer and his passionate attachment to Scotland. This paper seeks to associate these three strands; Verne as a geographer, his devotion to Scotland and the reflection of these enthusiasms in his three novels set in Scotland.

Verne as Geographer

Jules Verne was born in Nantes in 1828. After qualifying as a lawyer in Paris in 1849, he declined to follow the legal profession and devoted himself to theatrical and literary endeavours.1 It was at this stage that Verne began to conceptualise a new genre of novel, a novel that while essentially an adventure story would have a solid basis in the geography of the areas in which the story unfolds.2 In this format, two main inspirations are detectable. Verne followed avidly the great maritime and overland expeditions which were increasing knowledge of extreme environments, for example the polar latitudes and the interior of Africa. Secondly, he was inspired by the expansion of empires and the resultant reports of distant exotic lands and peoples. He immersed himself in reports of expeditions and journals of learned societies to accumulate a fund of geographical knowledge that was to underpin his future novels, and specifically the prolific series known collectively as the “Voyages Extraordinaires”.2 He confided in an interview with Marie Belloc in 1895:
  I have always been devoted to the study of geography, much as some people delight in history and historical research. I really think that my love for maps and the great explorers led to my composing the first of my long series of geographical stories.3

He was referring here to Five Weeks in a Balloon, published in 1863, which describes an east-west journey across Africa from Zanzibar to the Atlantic coast, flying over the presumed sources of the Nile and the Congo Basin. The novel commences in the London headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society where the President introduces the hero of the novel, Dr Fergusson, to the membership. His proposed expedition is greeted enthusiastically and is sponsored by the Daily Telegraph. At this time, much of Central Africa was a blank on the map, but Verne made heavy use of expedition reports to portray a vision of Africa which was based on geographical facts as known at the time. His passion for geography was exemplified by his membership of the Société de Géographie de Paris in 1865 (member number 710).4 Here he was to rub shoulders with some of the great geographers of the day, such as Kropotkin, and Elisée Reclus.5 His passion for sailing involved him in navigation and astronomy which he introduced into several novels and is central to one of them. The Adventures of Three Englishmen and Three Russians (1863) describes the efforts of six geographers to measure the arc of a meridian in South Africa. Moreover, Verne published a paper in the Bulletin de la Société de Géographie on meridians and the date line, a crucial element in his best known novel Around the World in Eighty Days.6 Latitude and Longitude is used as a device in one of Verne’s most exciting novels, The Children of Captain Grant (1865) which involves a circumnavigation of the globe. Figures on a scrap of paper found in a bottle in the Clyde estuary by an aristocratic sailor, Lord Glenarvon, are identified by a French geographer, M. Paganel, as being values of latitude and longitude in turn indicating the position of the shipwreck of Captain Grant’s vessel. M. Paganel is presented as the Secretary General of the Société de Géographie, who on a mission to India has boarded the wrong boat at Glasgow and unintentionally becomes involved in the search for Captain Grant. Paganel thus becomes a central character in the novel and is portrayed as an eccentric savant with an encyclopaedic knowledge based on book-learning.7

It would be an exaggeration to state that Verne made a significant contribution to geography as a discipline. He produced two major geographical texts. La Géographie Illustrée de la France (1868) had been commenced by Théophile Lavallée who on his death had completed the general section. Verne completed the volume by writing sections on each of the Départements and the colonies of France. It is an unremarkable text and conventional in approach.8 His second text Découverte de la Terre. Histoire Générale des Grands Voyages et des Grands Voyageurs, was written between 1864 and 1880.9 Extending to three volumes, Verne was sole author of the first, dealing with early exploration, but collaborated with Gabriel Marcel, of the Bibliothèque Nationale, on the second and third parts. If Verne made little contribution to academic geography, he nevertheless checked the factual basis of his novels assiduously and sought advice directly from scholars and explorers.10 Most of the geographical content of his novels is thus second hand and he did not hesitate to exploit guide books to add local colour and detail.11 He was not himself widely travelled. His earliest journey was to England and Scotland in 1859 which provided the material for his first manuscript, Voyage à Reculons en Angleterre et l’Ecosse, published posthumously in 1989. During this visit he saw the Great Eastern ocean steamship in London and in 1867 crossed the Atlantic aboard her from Liverpool to New York and made an excursion up the Hudson Valley to the Niagara Falls. An enthusiastic sailor, Verne possessed three boats in succession, the third of which, the St Michel III was a large steam yacht capable of long voyages.12 In 1878 he sailed to Lisbon and Algiers and in 1880 to Ireland, Scotland and Norway. This was followed by a voyage to Rotterdam and Copenhagen in 1881 and in 1883-4 he sailed round the Western Mediterranean. These personal travels were to make settings for several novels and especially the three works now to be discussed in this paper, but the vast majority of his books were set in areas outside his experience.

In effect, the 66 voyages extraordinaires function as manuals to particular terrains, latitudes, climates, vegetation and ethnic composition. Humeau has identified four global zones as capturing Verne’s imagination as settings for his novels; the sea and submarine depths, vast interior plains, mountains, usually coupled with vulcanicity, and the high latitudes of the Arctic and Antarctic.13 Verne exploits the distinctiveness of each of these zones to weave stories which in geographical terms are instructive while enlivened by exciting action. This popularising of geography does not imply that Verne was unconcerned by broader political, social and economic matters. At times his views are contradictory. For example, implicit in some of his novels is criticism of imperialism, but this is always set in the context of exploitation by Britain and he is reticent with respect to French colonial conquests. He was a liberal Republican, but also was influenced by the anarchic views of Kropotkin and especially the radicalism of Elisée Reclus. While deploring aspects of imperialism, along with Louis Pasteur, Ferdinand de Lesseps, he was a member of the founding committee of the Alliance Française in 1884 with a mission “to maintain and extend the influence of France”14 Towards the end of his life Verne’s writing became more politically orientated and in particular became concerned over the future security and sustainability of the planet faced with the inexorable advance of science and the capacity for resource exploitation.

Verne and Scotland

Verne professed an affection for Scotland to an almost obsessive degree. He claimed descent on his mother’s side from a Scottish ancestor. His mother, Sophie Allotte de la Fuÿe was descended from a Scottish archer, Allotte, in the guards of Louis XI. He was enobled in 1462 and assumed the title de la Fuÿe, signifying his right to own a dovecote. Secondly, since childhood he had revelled in the writings of Sir Walter Scott and the mysterious past of Ossian and read widely, in translation, Scottish history and literature.
  “All my life I have delighted in the works of Sir Walter Scott, and during a never-to-be-forgotten tour in the British Isles, my happiest days were spent in Scotland. I still see, as in a vision, beautiful, picturesque Edinburgh, with its Heart of Midlothian, and many entrancing memories; the Highlands, world-forgotten Iona, and the wild Hebrides. Of course, to one familiar with the works of Scott, there is scarce a district of his native land lacking some association connected with the writer and his immortal work”.15

Thirdly, he regarded Scotland as being downtrodden by the English, linking the history of Scotland to his anti-British imperialist views. As a Breton, he empathised with the “Celtic Fringe” of Ireland and Scotland as conquered and exploited lands. Ironically, he sympathised with the view of Scotland founding its own colonies overseas and in Les Enfants de Capitaine Grant, the plot revolves around the search for the lost Scottish sea captain on his mission to claim a territory as a colony. The first visit to Scotland in 1859 exceeded his wildest imaginings and inspired the three novels analysed below. In addition to these books, Verne was to populate his novels with Scottish figures, who were invariably cast in a romantic and heroic mould, especially as seafarers and explorers. Huet16 calculates that 27 Scots feature in 10 novels, while Humeau17 suggests a figure of 40 Scots in total with major or minor roles. With this profound affection for Scotland and admiration of its people and culture, it is unsurprising that three of his novels should be set in Scotland. These may now be examined in terms of Verne’s use of geography as both a spatial setting and as a literary device to unfold a plot.

Voyage à Reculons en Angleterre et l’Ecosse

This novel is significant in several respects. Completed in 1860, the manuscript was rejected by his publisher and was only rediscovered and published in 1989 by Robin18 and translated into English in 1992.19 In 1859, Verne was offered a free voyage to Liverpool by the brother of his musician friend Aristide Hignard. Verne was overjoyed at the opportunity to visit his “native” Scotland. The book is an account of this journey, no doubt highly embroidered, in which Verne is given the assumed name of Jaques Lavaret and Hignard becomes Jonathan Savournon. The book has little plot as such. It is an account of the itinerary with accompanying geographical detail and historical digressions and thus does not constitute one of the Voyages Extraordinaires. The itinerary in Scotland followed by Verne and his companion has been re-constructed in Fig. 1.20

Fig. 1: Itinerary of Voyage à Reculons.

Having reached Liverpool, the friends take the Caledonian Railway to Edinburgh.21 Verne describes the changing landscape as they head north and the excitement mounts after passing Gretna sees the first mountain in his life, which he wrongly identifies as the Skiddaw Hills in the English Lake District. Arriving in Edinburgh the travellers stay at “Lambrets” Hotel.22 The next eight chapters are devoted to his exploration of the city in which observation is mingled with detail, no doubt gleaned from guidebooks, with frequent reference to scenes and events from Walter Scott’s novels. The highlight in geographical terms is the panorama from Arthur’s Seat.

  “His amazed eyes had never seen a more splendid sight. Arthur’s Seat raised its solitary head above the surrounding hills. The whole city was spread out below, with the modern districts and regular streets of the New Town contrasting with Auld Reekie’s confused tangle of houses and crazy network of alleys. Two landmarks dominated the skyline, the Castle on its basaltic rock and Calton Hill, with the ruins of a Greek temple on its rounded summit. Splendid tree-lined avenues converged on the capital. Tothe north, an arm of the sea, the Firth of Forth, with the port of Leith at its mouth, cut deeply inland. North of the Firth lay the harmonious coastline of the kingdom of Fife; to the east stretched the boundless expanse of sea which always looks blue and calm when viewed from such heights…No pen can do justice to this breathtaking scene”.23

Having explored the city, the story begins to involve real people but in an anonymous form, real names being deleted in the manuscript with only initials remaining. Thus a visit is made to the home of a distant relative of Hignard, a certain “Mr B” of Inverleith Row. Reference to the Edinburgh Post Office Directory for 1859 reveals only a single appropriate surname beginning with B in Inverleith Row, a Mr William Bain who resided at number six.24 The text describes Mr B as being a soberly dressed and respected businessman and in fact Mr Bain was Manager of the Edinburgh branch of the City of Glasgow Bank. The book describes the house in detail, its Georgian architecture and garden which all corresponds with the present day number six. Moreover, the locality described by Verne, adjacent to the entrance to the Botanic Gardens and opposite Warriston Cemetery, is also an exact fit. Verne falls victim to the charms of Mr B’s daughter, Amelia. In fact the 1861 census shows that William Bain had a daughter who would have been almost eighteen at the time of Verne’s visit.25 Documentary evidence and recent field observation suggest that William Bain can be safely identified as the real person described as Mr B. While dining with the family the travellers are introduced to a family friend the “Reverend Mr S” a catholic priest. The two friends are most anxious to see the Highlands and to meet genuine clansmen and Amelia proposes a two-day itinerary by boat and train.26 The Reverend Mr S invites them to be his guests at his brother’s castle at Oakley in Fife and agrees to meet them from the boat.

Accordingly, Verne and Hignard set off the following morning and board the SS Prince of Wales at Granton Pier in pouring rain.27 The story charts the slow and sodden journey up the Forth with frequent stops at the numerous villages before disembarking at Crombie Point where as promised they are met by the Reverend Mr S. The priest walks them for an hour to “Oakley Castle” where in the absence of his brother, he acts as host. Two main questions of identity arise at this point. There is no Oakley “Castle” but by drawing an arc on a nineteenth century map approximating to an hour’s walking time and examining all the mansions within the area it was immediately obvious that Inzievar House in Oakley matches in every detail Verne’s description.{28} Individual rooms, including the one that the travellers change into dry clothes in, are easily identified, and features such as the orangerie, the stables and the heated and irrigated glasshouses described in detail by Verne are all still evident, as are traces of the gas lighting in the house and grounds.29 Similarly, the external architecture;

“the façade of the castle, before which stretched a large lawn, produced a charming impression, with its quaint asymmetry, its irregular roofs, its gothic gables and turrets”
corresponds exactly. Verne admires the newness of the castle;
“The castle was resolutely modern and still in its prime”.

In fact Inzievar House was built between 1856 and 1859 by the famous baronial architect David Bryce. Having identified Inzievar House it was then a simple matter to discover that it belonged to a Mr Archibald Smith-Sligo, a wealthy landed gentleman who owned coal mines and the Forth Ironworks at Oakley.30 Verne describes this industrial landscape as seen from the castle tower. Moreover amongst the many residents listed in the 1861 census is Mr William Smith “aged 41, catholic priest without a parish”.31 The absence of Archibald Smith-Sligo may be explained by the fact that he had remarried to a widow in 1859, having lost his first wife, and the couple may have embarked on one of their frequent voyages abroad or were simply residing in their town house in Drummond Place in Edinburgh’s New Town.

The next stage of the journey is by train from Oakley station to Stirling and then by the Scottish Central Railway to Glasgow.32 After the lengthy and approving account of Edinburgh, Glasgow gets short shrift in two brief chapters. The couple stay at Comries Royal Hotel on George Square33 and from there visit the city centre, cathedral and necropolis. They hire a cab which takes them to the Clyde waterfront and to a suburban park which Verne subsequently fails to find on his map of Glasgow;

“All they remembered was following the wide circular drive of a hilly park overlooked by layer upon layer of grand recently-built houses” (Chapter 31)34

The two companions leave Glasgow without regrets35 and take the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Company train to Dumbarton and Balloch in windowless Third Class carriages.36 At Balloch they embark on the Prince Albert for Inversnaid at the foot of Ben Lomond.37 38 Immediately their spirits rise. Descriptions of the landscape become more evocative and the historical and literary allusions abound.

“The first overwhelming impression of Loch Lomond is of countless delightful islands of every shape and size imaginable. The Prince Albert weaved its way between them skirting their rugged outlines and revealing a myriad different countrysides; here a fertile plain, there a solitary glen, elsewhere a forbidding ravine bristling with age-old rocks. Ancient legends clung to every shore, andthe history of this land is written in these gigantic characters of islands and mountains”

The travellers disembark at Inversnaid and after a whisky at the hotel take a carriage to Stromnachlachar, a landing stage on Loch Katherine. Verne is now in his element for The Trossachs are redolent of the stories of Sir Walter Scott;

“Close to where the Forth springs from Ben Lomond, one can see the ford where Rob Roy escaped from the Duke of Montrose’s troopers. One cannot take a step in this exceptional region without coming across events which inspired Walter Scott’s rousing echoes of the Clan MacGregor’s call to arms...

Soon the road wound down the gorge of a narrow glen where one expected to come across mischievous goblins like Meg Merrilies’s brownies”. (Chapter 33)

The travellers board the SS Rob Roy39 and traverse the lake to its eastern landing stage where

“Jacques (Verne) turned one last time to bid goodbye to those magnificent landscapes whose sublime beauty defies the imagination” (Chapter 34).

Once more they board a carriage which takes them past the “new” Trossachs Hotel (completed in 1855) and on to Callander where they board the “newly-built”40 line to Stirling and an overnight hotel. After touring the castle and town in the morning, the pair board the Scottish Central train to Edinburgh.41 This is followed by a final nostalgic day in Edinburgh before boarding the North British Railway overnight train to London at the General Station.42

“With heavy hearts they walked down the Canongate one last time, waved goodbye to Holyroodhouse... after one last sad glance at Edinburgh Castle Jacques followed hisfriend into the station building” Ch 36.

The ABC rail guide for 1859 shows a departure time of 8.15pm and an arrival in London at 11 am, which is very close to Verne’s description of a departure at 9 pm and a 15 hour journey. The timetable also refers to the train as being composed of Third Class carriages, which accounts for Jacques discomfort and sleepless night. Verne also refers to the train as being an “excursion” which would account for it being full and rowdy. The travellers refuse to allow a window to be opened which added to Verne’s suffering, for as the ABC Guide points out,

“Fresh air is of greater importance even than the avoidance of draughts and indeed a Railway carriagefull of passengers, and with all the windows closed, will soon be filled with vitiated air that is insufferable and suggestive only of the Black Hole of Calcutta.”43

Voyage à Reculons is a mixture of geography, history, culture and folklore and the fact that it is based on observation brings life to an otherwise superficial account. It reflects the writings of the Romantic period in France and the search for the exotic and Verne’s route follows exactly the standard circuit followed by well-to-do tourists.44 In his Conclusion, Verne admits the superficiality of travel writing based on short journeys and the role of the imagination in the depiction of the geography of place:

“They (the two travellers) will have felt Liverpool and formed an impression of Edinburgh; they will have glimpsed Glasgow, guessed at Stirling, groped at London. They will have touched mountains and skimmed over lakes, imagined if not recognized new customs, geographical variations, strange manners, national differences. They will have sensed much - but, in truth seen nothing!

Only now, on their return, can their serious exploration begin, for imagination will henceforth be their guide as they travel backwards through their memories”.

Les Indes Noires

Of the three novels, Les Indes Noires, 1877, is by far the most substantial in plot, characterisation and underlying political and social observation. It is a roman noir, full of macabre scenes, mysterious events, coupled with discourses on the social and economic significance of coal mining. Although the book suggests the exploitation of the Scots by the English, paradoxically it presents an utopian mining community, populated by industrious and proud people. The extent to which Verne’s image diverged from reality had been revealed by the Children’s Employment Commission Report in 1840 which described the legacy of virtually a slave system in the collieries resulting in poverty, poor housing and appalling working condition for men, women and children alike.45 What emerges is a compelling story, which, while being a fantasy, has substance, strength and drama.

The setting of the story is the coalfield of Aberfoyle, which in geological terms is an absurdity. For an author who prided himself on geographical accuracy, it is surprising that Verne should have chosen such an inappropriate site.46 It is possible that Verne may have known that Aberfoyle had an early history of charcoal smelting of locally- mined iron ores and of the existence of slate quarries on the Duke’s Pass, a col linking the Forth and Teith headwaters, of sufficient importance to justify a tramway from the quarries to the village. A more likely explanation is that the fantastic events which take place in the novel required a setting of mystery, myth and romance such as was provided by the Trossachs. Moreover, the plot requires the presence of a large lake to flood the mine, which was provided by Loch Katrine. The siting of the novel must thus be regarded as poetic license and a deviation from his normal geographical accuracy.47

Fig. 2: Itinerary of Les Indes Noires

Verne displays a considerable knowledge of mining, both in geological terms and in the organisation of extraction. It is clear from Voyage à Reculons that Verne had insufficient time to visit a coal mine in Oakley and the background was derived from a visit to Anzin on the French Northern Coalfield.48 The plot is too long and complex to summarise in detail. The title refers to the importance of mining in Britain as being of the same economic importance as the colonies, and indeed Verne includes a rather incongruous and lengthy description of British Carboniferous geology and the mining industry, (Chapter 3). The story revolves around the abandoned coalfield of Aberfoyle and specifically the Dochart mine and the Yarrow coal seam. James Starr, the former Chief Engineer, of a highly respected Edinburgh family, receives a strange letter inviting him to visit Aberfoyle to see something of interest to him. The letter is signed by Simon Ford, an old overman of the Dochart pit. To satisfy his curiosity, Starr takes the ferry from Granton Pier49 to Stirling aboard the SS Prince of Wales (Fig. 2). From Stirling, he takes the train to Callander where he is met by Harry Ford, the overman’s son and they walk the four miles to the Dochart pit.50 The Ford family are still resident within the mine and welcome Starr with a lunch of soup and haggis.51 Simon Ford reveals the point of his letter. He has found firedamp at the point where the mine was abandoned and therefore the existence of more coal. The following day, Starr and the Ford father and son blast a way through the coalface to reveal a vast series of caverns with rich coal seams which are later proven to extend from the Ayrshire coast, underneath Loch Katrine and as far north of the Caledonian Canal. On returning to the entrance, they find that it has been blocked by a suspicious rockfall and that they are trapped. Several days later they are rescued by a Jack Ryan, a friend of Harry, and by a group of worthies from Edinburgh concerned at the unexplained disappearance of James Starr.

Three years later, a new underground town has been built, “Coal City” on the shores of a lagoon, Lake Malcolm, and the town has even become a tourist attraction. Meanwhile, mysterious and dangerous happenings are taking place and this is attributed to a goblin. In search of the source of the trouble, Jack and Harry descend a deep shaft and discover an unconscious child, Nell, who now becomes the heroine of the story. On climbing a rope to extricate the girl, they are attacked by a “harfang”,52 a giant bird. It transpires that Nell is an orphan, brought up by her grandfather and has never seen daylight. She is adopted into the Ford family and Harry rapidly becomes enamoured. It is decided that Nell should see the real world and James Starr, Harry and Jack set off after dusk to protect her eyes. They take the branch line from Aberfoyle53 to the Forth and Clyde Junction Railway and thence to Stirling. At Stirling, they hire a yawl which takes them down the estuary to Granton Pier arriving at 2am. They walk through the town to climb Arthur’s Seat for Nell to witness sunrise. The view from the summit as dawn breaks is described in almost the same words as in Voyage à Reculons while reference to the dawn sighting of the “green ray” anticipates his final Scottish novel Le Rayon Vert. After breakfast the group take the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway train to Glasgow where they spend the night at Comrie’s Royal Hotel, again a repetition of Verne’s 1859 itinerary.54 The following morning they take the same company’s train to Balloch. At Balloch, the group boards the SS Sinclair and as they sail up Loch Lomond to Inversnaid, James Starr points out to Nell all the landmarks and their historical connotations. As in his previous novel, the party travels to Loch Katrine where they board the Rob Roy. At this point, Harry asks Nell to be his wife and she gives her assent. Immediately, after a huge tremor, a gulf opens up in the floor of the loch and in minutes Loch Katrine ceases to exist as its waters pour into New Aberfoyle. Hastening back to Coal City,55 they find that there is no disaster and that the level of Lake Malcolm has simply risen by a few feet, but there is no doubt in James Starr’s mind that this is another manifestation of an evil spirit. The day of the marriage of Nell and Harry arrives but at the crucial moment there is a rockfall and the hooded figure of a man bearing a lamp and accompanied by the harfang appears on a small boat on Loch Malcolm. Crying out to beware of the firedamp, the man releases the harfang with the lighted wick from the lamp and sends it towards the cavern roof where the firedamp has risen. However, Nell calls out to the bird, which drops the wick into the lake and comes to her feet. Meanwhile the old man throws himself into the lake and drowns. It is revealed that the old man is Silfax, who had the task of burning off pockets of gas and who had remained behind when the Dochart mine closed. It also transpires that he is the grandfather of Nell and had raised the girl without ever letting her out of the mine. Going progressively more deranged, he believes that the mine is his and hence all the unexplained incidents which he had staged to drive away the population of Coal City. The novel ends on a happy note with the marriage taking place but the final image is of the harfang flitting menacingly above Lake Malcolm and thus a sense of foreboding.

Le Rayon Vert

Verne’s final Scottish novel, Le Rayon Vert, published in 1882, is the slightest in terms of plot and characterisation but reflects Verne’s passion for sea travel and is meticulous in the nautical, meteorological and geographical detail of the journey. The setting is the West Coast from the Clyde Estuary to Oban and Mull (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3: Itinerary of Le Rayon Vert.

It is known that Verne sailed in his yacht St Michel III to Ireland and Scotland but as no records of the voyage exist in the public domain, the actual date and itinerary have attracted debate. Verne himself is explicit both as to his visit to Staffa and that the voyage formed the basis for the Rayon Vert. In an interview given to Gordon Jones he states;

“…among other excursions (I) paid a visit to Fingal’s Cave in the Isle of Staffa. This vast cavern withits mysterious shadows, dark, weed-covered chambers and marvellous basaltic pillars, producedupon me a most striking impression and was the the origin of my book...Le Rayon Vert.56

Some commentators have assumed that the excursion was attached to Verne’s 1859 voyage57 58 but this is extremely unlikely given the two young men’s shortage of time and money. Moreover, it is inconceivable that such a vivid experience would have been excluded from the book as compared with some of its more mundane passages. Sorriano59 places the date of the voyage to Ireland, Scotland and Norway as 1879. Jean-Jules Verne60 notes that the only documented voyage in 1879 was to Edinburgh and the east coast of England but admits that a cruise in 1880 was possible.60 Butcher61 includes Scotland in a list of voyages between 1879 and 1880 whereas Derivery,62 places the date emphatically as being 1880. Just as the date of his voyage is uncertain so is the itinerary. What is certain is that Verne did not sail the itinerary exactly as indicated in Le Rayon Vert. For example the Lloyds Yacht Register gives the dimensions of the St Michel III which indicate that she could not have passed through the Crinan Canal63 The journey in the novel is the “Royal Route” followed by Queen Victoria in her 1847 visit to the Highlands. This became an immensely popular tourist route and Verne would have had no difficulty finding guide book descriptions of the part of the route that he had not sailed himself64 In summary, and until the yacht’s log books come to light, 1880 may be proposed as the likely date of Verne’s visit to the Hebrides and that after sailing to Ireland, Verne would have continued to Mull, Iona and Staffa and probably to Oban.65 The continuation to Norway could have been made either by Cape Wrath or by the Caledonian Canal, which was large enough for the Saint Michell III to navigate.

The story concerns the romantic life of Helena Campbell, an orphan in the care of two uncles who divide their residence between a town mansion in West George Street, Glasgow and a country retreat north of Helensburgh on the Gareloch. Having reached the age of eighteen the uncles are anxious to see Helena make a good marriage and propose a pedantic and eccentric young scientist, Aristobulos Ursiclos as a possible suitor. However, having read a newspaper article in the Morning Post which describes the Green Ray, the green flash which occurs at the moment of the sun’s setting below the sea horizon, and the sighting of which bestows certainty on the part of the beholder in matters of love, Helena refuses to consider marriage until she has seen the Green Ray.

Accordingly the entire household sets off for Oban, where coincidentally Ursiclos is on holiday. The itinerary commences by train from Helensburgh to Glasgow where the party boards the “SS Columbia” (sic)66 which served the first leg of the “Royal Route” followed by Queen Victoria in 1847.67 There follows a detailed nautical description of the route along the Clyde, through the Kyles of Bute and up Loch Fyne to Ardrishaig, the entrance to the Crinan Canal.68 Here the passengers disembarked and walked a few metres across the quay to the waiting canal steamer, the “Linnet”.

This was a remarkable boat that could accommodate 270 passengers and she sailed the nine miles of the canal in under two hours.69 On arriving at Crinan, the group transferred to the SS Glengarry which was to take them to Oban.70 The story now begins to pick up pace with the rescue of a young man and an exhausted sailor from a rowing boat trapped in the notorious Corryvreckan whirlpool71 The Glengarry then proceeds to Oban and the party is installed in the Caledonian Hotel.72 To Helena’s distress, the enclosing islands of Oban Bay obscure the horizon and preclude any chance of seeing the Green Ray. Twice the party travel by coach in the evening to the island of Seil , only to be frustrated on the first occasion by a wisp of cloud across the sun and on the second by a small boat which obscures the sun with its sail at the crucial moment.73 The boat is manned by Aristobulus Ursulus, which does nothing to warm Helena’s feelings towards him. Meanwhile, the group has been joined by the young man rescued from the Corryvreckan who turns out to be a handsome artist, Oliver Sinclair, of a good Edinburgh family and it rapidly becomes clear that he and Helena admire each other.

The next stage of the campaign is proposed by Oliver who suggests that the ideal conditions would be found on Iona. Accordingly the party board the SS Pioneer74 which rounds the south coast of Mull and disembarks the group on Iona where they lodge at the Arms of Duncan Hotel.75 After several fruitless cloudy days, on September 5th the party climbs a hill to await sunset at 6.49. Helena fixes her gaze on the horizon when at the critical time, two loud gun explosions sound and a flock of alarmed sea birds obscure the sun. Once again, the miserable Aristobulus is responsible. After this further setback, the next day the group charts the yacht “Clorinda” to sail the few miles to the island of Staffa.76 They anchor at Clamshell Bay for the night and spend the next day exploring the cave at Clamshell. Unfortunately the barometer begins to fall rapidly overnight and the skipper decides that it is unsafe for the yacht to remain. Helena persuades her uncles that they should stay while the yacht sails for shelter and the party camps down with provisions from the boat. The group clamber over the rocks to visit Fingal’s Cave marvelling at its grandeur returning towards nightfall and in deteriorating weather to their camp. The following day Helena again visits the cave and the party is alarmed that by dusk and with a violent gale blowing, she has not returned. Oliver and the two uncles rush to Fingal’s Cave, but with the tide having risen and with waves crashing into the cave, Helena is trapped and risks drowning. Oliver takes the ship’s boat left behind by the Clorinda and with a superhuman effort rows into the cave and finds Helena crouched in terror in a high recess above the waves. With Helena unconscious from exhaustion, Oliver clasps her until dawn, when with the falling tide, he is able to carry her out of the cave to Clamshell Bay. The following day, both Helena and the weather had improved and conditions were perfect for observing the Green Ray but neither Helena nor Oliver saw it. As the ray is displayed, Helena was gazing into the dark “ray” of Oliver’s eyes and he is gazing into her blue eyes. The course of true love has been determined without the need for confirmation from the Green Ray. The Clorinda takes the party back to Oban where the train is caught to Glasgow.77 Eighteen days later, the couple are married at St George’s church Glasgow.


This paper has attempted to summarise Verne’s three Scottish novels, to situate them accurately in locational terms, to verify the detail in the itineraries and to evaluate the geographical skills manifest in his writing. Each of the novels displays different limitations of Verne as a geographer.

Voyage à Reculons should perhaps not be too severely criticised. Verne at this time was a young man aged 31 and it was his first journey abroad and moreover to the land of his imagination, Scotland. The result is a narrative revealing Verne’s excitement, his questioning mind but one in which absorption with Scottish culture transcends the geography of his voyage. Also he only spent a few days north of the border and we get snapshots along the route rather than analysis in depth. Les Indes Noires is based on the same itinerary but is an altogether more challenging book. By the time he wrote it, Verne had become more engaged with geography and with scientific as well as cultural interests. Unfortunately, for his plot to succeed, he has to invent the geographical and geological content. Verne produces in New Aberfoyle, a milieu that has internal authenticity but which falsifies geographical reality. Finally, in Le Rayon Vert, he has written both a narrative and a travelogue, no doubt in part based on his voyage to the Hebrides. It captures a specific time in Scottish historical geography, the opening up of west coast tourism in a highly organised fashion as compared with the more arduous early days of tourism in the Trossachs.

In summary, we may agree with Humeau78 that it is more appropriate to think of “Verne and geography” rather than “Verne the Geographer”. His passion for geography, travel and exploration is fundamental to his literary output, but for the most part it is an auto-didactic geography, which when required to suit his imagination, could assume a variable geometry. In one respect, Verne is unchallenged. As a populariser of geography, by linking it to adventure, exoticism and fantasy, Verne created greater public awareness in nineteenth century France of the geographer’s world than any of his academic contemporaries.79

Department of Geography and Geomatics
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ


The fieldwork for this research was financed by a grant from the Strathmartine Trust. The author is grateful to Kari Petrie for help with genealogical research on the Smith-Sligo and Bain families. The staff of the special collections of the Scottish National Library, the Mitchell Library at Glasgow and the Carnegie Library, Dunfermline,were extremely helpful as were staff at the Scottish National Maritime Museum (Irvine) and at the Centre International Jules Verne at Amiens. Don Martin, Curator of the Maclean Collection of Scottish Railway History at Kirkintilloch library gave invaluable help on railway matters. I am grateful to Michael Shand not only for the cartography but also for his enthusiasm for the project. I am particularly grateful to Marie Buckley for allowing me access to Inzievar House and to Count Piero Gondolo della Riva for access to the crucial 1859 itinerary document. Thanks are due to Dr William Butcher for frequent and productive discussions on the Jules Verne Forum website and to Dr Geoff. Woollen of the Department of French, Glasgow University for aiding the launch of the project.


  1. The most comprehensive and recent biography of Verne is J-P Dekiss, Jules Verne l’enchanteur, (Paris 2002)
  2. As well as being one of the world’s most prolific writers, Verne’s works have appeared in countless editions, some of them abridged, and in translations of varying quality. It is vital therefore to refer to the first illustrated editions produced by his publisher Hetzel. The proliferation of editions also complicates citation by page numbers. Since Verne wrote in very short chapters, it is sufficient to cite extracts simply by chapter numbers. The Voyages Extraordinaires refers to the 62 adventure novels involving exotic travel, adventure and science fiction which form the corpus of Verne’s creative work.
  3. M. A. Belloc, Jules Verne at Home, Strand Magazine, February (1895). In his novel Vingt Mille lieues sous les mers, the library in the submarine Nautilus is stocked with classic geographical texts, together with the “Bulletins of diverse geographical societies”.
  4. Anon, Jules Verne, Membre de la Société de Géographie, Bull. Soc. Géog. de Paris, 8, (1864) 508-10.
  5. J. Chesneaux, The Political and Social Ideas of Jules Verne, (London1972) 72. Also, R. H. Sherard, Jules Verne. His own account of his life and work, McClure’s Magazine, January (1984).
  6. Les méridiens et le Calendrier, Bull. Soc.de Géog., VI série, 1873, Tome VI 423-8
  7. It is difficult to think of an English novel in which an eminent geographer is a principal character. The Kraken Wakes (Wyndham, 1955) features Professor Bocker, a physical geographer but with far less prominence than Paganel. Coincidentally, the theme of sea monsters replicates the attack on the Nautilus by a Kraken (giant squid) in Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Chapter 18).
  8. J. Verne, Géographie illustré de la France et de ses Colonies, (Paris 1868)
  9. J. Verne, Histoire Générale des grands Voyages et les grands Voyageurs: Découverte de la Terre, 1 (Paris 1870) 2 (1879) 3 (1880).
  10. For example he consulted Kropotkin concerning detail relevant to Michel Strogoff, (1876), set in Russia.
  11. L. Sabourin, Jules Verne et l’Ecosse: lire, voir, créer, Le récit de voyage et roman, (Paris 2001) 143-153.
  12. La Révue Maritime, Spéciale J. Verne, mai1984
  13. D. Humeau, Les dimensions géographique dans l’œuvre de Jules Verne, Geographie et Cultures, 15 (1995) 30-31.
  14. The archives of the Alliance Française, recently returned from Moscow after confiscation by the German army and subsequently captured by the Russians indicate its strong links with geography. The Assemblée Générale of 1884 was held “dans la grande salle de la Société de Géographie, 184, bd Saint-Germain”, Bulletin de l’Alliance Française, 2 (1884).
  15. Belloc, op. cit. 3.
  16. M-H. Huet, l’Histoire des Voyages extraordinaires, (Paris 1974).
  17. Humeau, op. cit. 13, 39.
  18. J. Verne, Voyage à Reculons en Angleterre et l’Ecosse, Posthumous publication edited by C. Robin, (Paris,1989)
  19. J. Verne, Backwards to Britain, (Edinburgh, 1992) translated by J. Valls- Russell
  20. Figures 1-3 have been constructed from the text and include all place names mentioned. The base maps used were from the National Gazeteer of Great Britain and Ireland, 1868, which includes almost all the railway lines taken by Verne.
  21. Founded in 1847, the Caledonian Railway linked London and cities in the west of England to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Verne would have arrived at the Lothian Road station in Edinburgh, a primitive wooden terminal built in 1848, rebuilt in 1894 and renamed as Princes Street . It closed as recently as 1965. Caledonian Railway Centenary (1847-1947) (London, 1947) 21.
  22. The Post Office Directory of Edinburgh for 1859 gives the name as Lambrés Hotel, owned by a Frenchman, Nicholas Lambré, 18 Princes Street.
  23. Chapter 20
  24. The only other resident with a surname beginning with “B” was a Professor of Botany which shows no correspondence with Verne’s Mr B. Slater’s Directory of Scotland, 1860
  25. Census of Scotland,1861, 685/1, 81, St George District, p 7, no. 28.
  26. Amelia wrote out a two day itinerary complete with times and means of transport. This list was transcribed into French by Verne and is the sole document known to have survived from Verne’s 1859 visit. It was owned by the great Verne collector, Count Piero Gondolo della Riva and is now in the Verne collection at Amiens municipal library. Crucially it includes reference to a visit “Chez Mr Smith”, proof of the identity of the “Reverend Mr S” discussed below. The importance of this tattered fragment in the context of research on Verne in Scotland cannot be overstated.
  27. Verne shows great inconsistency in his naming of boats. In many cases, he uses the names of real boats but not always the appropriate routes. This contrasts with his invariable accuracy with respect to railway routes, companies and stations. In this instance, the “Prince of Wales” is correctly identified. It was one of several competing steamers on the run from Edinburgh to Stirling. I. Brodie, Steamers of the Forth (Newton Abott 1976)
  28. The location of the castle as being in Oakley (the manuscript refers to “Ockley” ) was identified by Woollen, G. Woollen, Bulletin of The Franco-Scottish Society, 15 1991 11-12, and the precise building was suggested by Butcher in Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, (Oxford 1998) xiii. The present author arrived at the same conclusion independently.
  29. Verne claimed that “all one has to do in this generous land is to dig a hole for perennial heat and light to gush forth” Given that the nearest town gas, supplied by Dunfermline, was at Cairneyhill, some two miles distant it would seem the estate had indeed its own supply. Third Statistical Account of Scotland, County of Fife, (Edinburgh 1952).
  30. The Forth Ironworks opened in 1846 and closed in 1869. With seven blast furnaces it is unsurprising that Verne was impressed by the industrial landscape.
  31. Census of 1861, Parish of Saline, no. 455, book 6. The Smith family were ardently Catholic and generous benefactors to the church. The family built an impressive chapel and a primary school in Oakley as well as donations to the parish of Dunfermline. Inzievar House includes a chapel and the coat of arms on the façade bears the inscription “Sliego Veritas”, “search for the truth”, in this instance the true church. The family archives have recently been acquired by the National Library of Scotland. Acc 1286 contains the deeds of the estate from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, while Acc 8287, Smith-Sligo of Inzievar, contains 272 items, mainly letters and estate accounts. The importance of the family may be judged by the fact that the Reverend William Smith became the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
  32. The network and connections of this railway are illustrated in P. F. Marshall, The Scottish Central Railway, (Usk 1998).
  33. The 1859 Post Office Directory does include a “Royal Hotel” at 50 George Square but there is no reference to Comrie, possibly the name of the owner or perhaps Verne added Comrie, a village close to Inzievar House, to disguise the identity. The site is now occupied by a modern office block.
  34. The area was the “Park” district of Glasgow, situated on a drumlin overlooking Kelvingrove Park and developed after 1820. It was then, as now, the location of fine terraced mansions, built for the affluent professional classes.
  35. Verne refers to the observation of the “famous Aurora Borealis of August 30th (Chapter 30). In fact there is no mention of this phenomenon in the local newspapers, although a letter to the London Times, of September 6th, refers to aurora activity in Northern England over the previous nights and there were widespread observations in Europe.
  36. The rigorous Third Class travelling conditions on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway are graphically illustrated in D. Martin and A. Maclean, Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Guidebook, (Glasgow 1992).
  37. On this occasion, Verne has correctly identified a real vessel on its correct route. The Prince Albert was one of a small fleet of vessels named after Princes which plied Loch Lomond after the com-pletion of the rail link to Balloch in 1856, A J Patterson, The Victorian Summer of the Clyde Steamers (Newton Abbot 1972)
  38. At this point (Chapter 32) Verne makes one of several topographical errors. He gives the height of Ben Lomond as being over a thousand metres whereas in fact it only reaches 973 metres.
  39. Again Verne makes a correct identification of a vessel as the Rob Roy. In fact it was the Rob Roy II, replacing Rob Roy I in 1855. It was jointly owned by the three hotels at Inversnaid, Stronachlachar and the Trossachs; an early example of integrated tourism. M. Lloyds, Around Callander and the Trossachs, (Stroud 1999) 17.
  40. The “newly built” line, the Dunblane, Doune and Callander Railway was completed in 1858, a year before Verne’s visit. It linked Callander with Stirling by joining the Scottish Central line at Dunblane, J Thomas and D Turnock, A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain, XV, The North of Scotland, (Newton Abbot 1966) 38-9
  41. In Chapter 36, Verne refers to passing the Royal Train transporting Queen Victoria northwards. According to Verne’s dates he was travelling from Stirling to Edinburgh on September 1st whereas the London Times Court Circular shows that the Queen arrived in Edinburgh on the 30th August, to be greeted by 10,000 people as she made her stately progress to Holyrood Palace and continued her journey northwards to Balmoral the following day. There is therefore an anomaly in dates. Perhaps Verne had been aware of the Queen’s transit through Stirling and incorporated it into the narrative, albeit with a lapse of one day. Verne times his journey to Edinburgh as taking one hour and a quarter. The Scottish Central Railway timetable of that date gives a time of 1 hour 25 minutes. Scottish Record Office (SRO TT(S) 62/1).
  42. The “General Station” was the name given to what was to become Waverley Station. It was “general” in the sense that in addition to its owner, the North British, it was also used by the Edinburgh and Glasgow and Scottish Central Railways, H. Ellis, British Railway History, 1830-1876 (London 1954) 179.
  43. The ABC or Alphabetical Railway Guide, (London 1859) 3.
  44. The Romantic view of Scotland was not confined to France. In 1858, Theodor Fontane, the German poet and novelist made an almost identical journey to Scotland and his account shares many of the same romanticised themes as Verne, translated as T. Fontane, Across the Tweed, Notes on Travel in Scotland, 1858, ( London 1965). The circuit of the Trossachs was one of the earlier excursions organised by Thomas Cook, J. Pudney, The Thomas Cook Story (London 1953), 85.
  45. L. King, Sair,Sair Wark. Women and Mining in Scotland, ( Kelty 2001).
  46. G. Woollen, Jules McVerne, unpublished ms. 11-12.
  47. If the location of the coalfield is anomalous, the place names correspond to real places. The Dochart mine takes its name from Glen Dochart, some 10 miles to the north of Loch Katrine and the Yarrow coal seam takes its name from the village of Yarrow near Selkirk, in the heart of the Scott country and where he attended church.
  48. H. Marel, Jules Verne Zola et la mine, in Germinal. Une Documentation Intégrale, University of Glasgow French and German Publications, 1989 248-263.
  49. Verne repeats the itinerary, and the boat name that he took himself in 1859. Starr could have travelled much more quickly and comfortably by rail by this date.
  50. The four-mile walk from Callander would place the mine well to the east of Aberfoyle, in an area practically devoid of settlement.
  51. Reference is made to Burn’s address to the haggis which Verne states is his best.
  52. The “harfang” is the French name for the Snowy Owl (Nyctea Scandiaca), a bird of the sub-arctic tundra very rarely appearing as a vagrant in northern Scotland. If ornithologically dubious, the choice fits the role in that it is an aggressive bird which will attack humans when disturbed.
  53. This branch, the Strathendrick and Aberfoyle Railway was not opened until 1882 and so Verne must have anticipated its construction or simply invented it. J. Thomas, A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain, VI,( Newton Abbot 1971) 80-81.
  54. In fact the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway had been taken over by the North British Railway in 1865, therefore Verne was drawing on his unrevised 1859 rail journey.
  55. Verne gives no indication of how the group travelled from the marooned Rob Roy to New Aberfoyle, a long and arduous journey over the Duke’s Pass.
  56. G. Jones, Jules Verne at Home, Temple Bar,129 (1904) 664-671
  57. M. Allotte de la Fuÿe, Jules Verne ( London 1957) 87.
  58. P. Costello,Jules Verne. Inventor of Science Fiction, (London 1978) 64-5.
  59. M. Soriano, Jules Verne (le cas Verne), (Paris 1978 ) 226
  60. J. Jules-Verne, Jules Verne. A Biography, (London 1976)123
  61. W. Butcher, A chronology of Jules Verne, in Backwards to Britain, (Edinburgh 1992) 225
  62. F. Derivery, Pulsions et Inscriptions dans deux romans de Jules Verne, (Paris 1994) 13.
  63. Lloyd’s Register of British and Foreign Shipping, Yacht Register, 1880, gives the length of the St Michel III as 107 feet.
  64. Late nineteenth sailing bills are especially informative, see J Riddell, The Clyde. An illustrated history of the river and its shipping ( Fairlie 1988) 47
  65. In a letter to Pierre-Jules Hetzel, commenting on a smooth cruise from Edinburgh to Dover, Verne writes “one could have thought that we were on the channels of Mull” suggesting that Verne had first hand experience of sailing through the Sound of Mull. Letter no. 460 in O. Dumas et al. Correspondence inédite de Jules Verne et de Pierre-Jules Hetzel: 1863-1874, (Geneva 1999).
  66. Verne is referring to the SS Columba, the “swift” steamer which sailed the first leg of the Royal Route from Glasgow to Oban for many years. Verne was very familiar with the story of St Columba and so a typographical error may be assumed.
  67. The “Royal Route” was the sobriquet given to the journey from Glasgow to Oban via the Crinan Canal made by Queen Victoria in 1847, which did much to popularise the route as a tourist excursion. E. Bray The Discovery of the Hebrides, (Edinburgh, 1996) ch. 16. .

    Given the length of the St Michel III, it could not have passed through the Crinan Canal, with its lock length limit of 80 feet. Verne gives the entrance to the canal as being at Lochgilphead, rather than Ardrishaig. This offers evidence that this part of the itinerary was not known to Verne at first hand but given the popularity of the route, he would have had no difficulty obtaining the description from travel guides.

  68. The map included in Hetzel’s first illustrated edition diverges from the route described in the text by omitting the passage through the Kyles of Bute. It agrees with the text in that the SS Glengarry is supposed to have traversed the Sound of Seil, a physical impossibility given that a low bridge over the Sound had existed since 1793 and that the depth of water is no more than a few centimetres. As Derivery (op. cit 62) has pointed out, Hetzel employed artists independently of Verne, who would produce maps based on the text but which were not the work of professional cartographers. Hence Ben Nevis becomes Ben Levis (sic).
  69. Guthrie Hutton, The Crinan Canal. Puffers and Paddle Steamers, Catrine, 1994.
  70. The Glengarry was an actual steamer but was not particularly associated with the sea portion of the Royal Route. It was a rebuilt and renamed version of the Edinburgh Castle and was deployed on the Caledonian Canal to Inverness. I. McCrorie, Steamers of the Highlands and Islands. An illustrated History, (Greenock 1987) 22.
  71. The Corryvrekan whirlpool is situated between Jura and Scarba. It results from a tidal anomaly combined with an irregular submarine topography. It is strongest on the flood tide and when combined with strong westerly winds can produce 15 feet standing waves, extremely hazardous to small vessels.
  72. The Caledonian Hotel still exists and is one of the oldest, largest and most prominent hotels on the harbour front.
  73. Verne gives the time for sunset on August 4th as being 7.54pm. This seems too early for the latitude of Oban. The US Naval Observatory records for this day in 1880 show sunset at 20.25. The only way Verne’s time of 7.54 can be arrived at is by using the latitude of Oban but the longitude of Greenwich; an unscientific procedure for a sailor and navigator.
  74. Again, the name of a real vessel but not its normal route. Built in 1848, after serving the Crinan-Oban route, the Pioneer was used on the Clyde-Islay route.
  75. As with Ben Lomond, Verne gives the wrong height for Ben More on Mull. He cites a height of 3,500 feet whereas the elevation is only 3,171 feet. No “Arms of Duncan Hotel” is recorded on Iona but at the time of the party’s visit, two hotels existed, the Columba, built in 1846 and the Argyll, built c 1870. E. MacArthur,Columba’s Isle. Iona from past to present, (Edinburgh 1995) 79.
  76. The choice of the name of “Clorinda” for the yacht has two possible derivations. Even though, unusually, there is no Scottish connection, the name is probably derived from the battle between the Crusader knight Tancred and the pagan girl Clorinda. Much less likely the name may have been a corruption of “Clarinda”, the nom-de-plume of Mrs Agnes McLehose in the prolific correspondence with Robbie Burns, ardent but seemingly platonic admirers, which Verne may have been aware of.
  77. The party returns to Glasgow via Dalmally, which suggests that they took the Callander and Oban Railway, which had just been opened to passenger traffic in 1880.
  78. Humeau, op. cit.13
  79. P. Claval, Histoire de la Géographie française de 1870 à nos jours, (Paris 1998) 57


Copyright © Zvi Har’El
$Date: 2007/12/23 19:37:35 $