Nellie Bly, the groundbreaking American journalist
“I said I could and I would. And I did.” In one line Nellie Bly captures her entire mentality and lifestyle. Nellie Bly is the pen name of the famous, American, female journalist, Elizabeth Jane Cochrane.
Bly was born in May of 1864 and died January of 1922. She is most widely known for her record breaking trip around the world and her gutsy
stunt as playing the
role of a mad women in hopes of being taken to an insane asylum and documenting what goes on behind the walls of the asylum and how the patients lived and were treated. Nellie was clearly a bold writer who did things her way and hardly allowed for any hinderance in her journey. Not only did she influence journalism, but she also made an impact on women's rights and flaws in the political system1. Her beginning articles were about female factory workers and the objectifying of women.
Bly was discovered, in fact, by an anonymous letter she wrote denouncing an article titled, “What Women are Good for.” Bly wrote the editor
claiming the article was sexist and degrading. The editor was so impressed by her passion and issued advertisements asking her to reveal herself. She did so and was immediately hired by the newspaper.
She also went to Mexico for six months when she was 21 and wrote about the lives and customs of the Mexican people. She titled her book Six Months in Mexico.
this book she shined a light on the inequitable government and the corruption she saw during her trip. She was threatened by readers of the book and faced arrest if she did not leave Mexico. She
Around the World in 72 Days
promptly left. Her intentions in becoming a writer were to be an influence in the world. She wanted people to read and be moved. And she did so at a young age and changed journalism, sexism, and overall the wellbeing of others.
Bly grew up in Pennsylvania with her parents and four siblings. Her father, Michael Cochran founded the town in which Bly’s family lived. When Bly was six her father died leaving her family financially unstable and no legal claim to their property. Three months later Bly’s mother, MaryJane remarried an abusive and alcoholic man forcing Bly to testify for her mother and confirm a divorce. At this time the Married Women’s Property Act had been passed and it allowed women to inherit property and to be the legal owner of the money they owned.2 This was beneficial for her mother and allowed her a stable life until Bly went to college. In hopes of supporting her mother further, Bly went to a small college in Indiana to become a teacher. When her financial situation worsened she dropped out and moved to Pittsburgh with her mother and siblings. Bly’s experience with her mother and the struggles they went through as a family built her feminist morals. She became aware of the oppression that women felt in the walls of her own home. She fought alone for her mother’s safety and demanded that her mother was safe and respected.
At 18 Bly sent her letter protesting the sexist article and her writing career took off. Her first series of articles focused on women and their place in society as well as poverty and revealing the discrimination in Pittsburgh. Local leaders pressured Bly’s editor, George Madden to stop Bly from publishing these bold articles and put her in a topic more suitable for women. Madden placed Bly in the topic of “Fashion and Society”. Being as determined as she was she
Sparticus Educational1870 Married Women’s Property Act
still found a way to impress the public mind with matters concerning equal gender roles. She wrote an article titled, “
Should Women Propose
?” as well as “
Women in the Pulpit
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