Jules Verne, one of the most influential writers of modern times, was born on February 8, 1828 in Nantes, France. He wrote for the theater and worked briefly as a stockbroker. Verne is considered by many to be the father of science fiction. His most popular novels include Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Around the World in Eighty Days. These and others have been made into movies and TV mini-series. Twenty Thousand Leagues is even the basis of a popular ride at the Disney theme parks. In 1892, he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in France. He died on March 24, 1905 in Amiens, France.
Kaye Gibbons was born on May 5, 1960 in Nash County, North Carolina. She received a bachelor's degree in American literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her first novel, Ellen Foster, was published in 1987. It won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was chosen as one of Oprah's Book Club Selections, and was adapted into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. Her other novels include The Virtuous Woman, A Cure for Dreams, Sights Unseen, On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon, Divining Women, The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster, The Lunatics' Ball, and The Secret Devotions of Mary Magdalen. Her novel Charms for the Easy Life was also adapted into a made-for-television movie. She also received the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, which recognized her contribution to French Literature in 1996 and she received the North Carolina Award for Literature in 1998.