The Unexplained Death of Nellie Bly: 5 Things to Know

The Unexplained Death of Nellie Bly

Investigative journalist Nellie Bly, whose real name was Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman, made significant contributions to the field in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She passed away on January 27, 1922, in New York City. She was born on May 5, 1864, in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania.

1. The Early Life of Nellie Bly

Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman, a.k.a. Nellie Bly, was born to Michael and Mary Jane Cochran on May 5, 1864, in Cochran’s Mills, Pennsylvania. Her father was a successful businessman who owned a store and a mill. She was the third of thirteen children.

Bly experienced sorrow and financial difficulty in his early years. When she was just six years old, her father passed away, leaving her family in debt and unable to make ends meet. Bly and her family relocated to Pittsburgh when she was sixteen. She briefly attended Indiana Normal School there before quitting owing to financial difficulties.

When Bly read a newspaper essay in 1880 criticizing women’s education, her life changed. Using the alias “Lonely Orphan Girl,” she penned a vehement response that she forwarded to the Pittsburgh Dispatch. She received a job offer as a reporter when the newspaper’s editor was impressed with her writing.

Early Bly’s reporting emphasized social justice and women’s issues. She wrote about the misery of the impoverished, the challenges of women in the workplace, and the working conditions in mines and factories. She immediately became one of the most well-known journalists of her era thanks to the brave and fascinating work she produced.

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Throughout her profession, Bly’s family remained a significant aspect of her life. She wed billionaire entrepreneur Robert Seaman in 1895, and the two were parents to one child. Throughout her whole life, Bly wrote and reported on significant topics, and her reputation as a pioneer in the field of investigative journalism is still strong today.

2. Her Career

When Nellie Bly was just 21 years old, she began her work as a journalist. She was recruited as a reporter at the Pittsburgh Dispatch for her first job in journalism after submitting a forceful response to an article that had criticized women’s education.

2.1. Pittsburgh Dispatch

Nellie Bly, a trailblazing investigative writer of the late 19th century, got her to start working for The Pittsburgh Dispatch.

Nellie Bly, a young lady 21 years old, relocated to Pittsburgh in 1885 to pursue a career in journalism. A well-known newspaper at the time hired her as a freelance reporter for the Pittsburgh Dispatch. She was originally tasked with covering social events and women’s issues, but she quickly established a reputation for her fearless reporting and writing.

George Madden was one of the editors at the Dispatch who saw promise in Bly. Bly’s capacity to take on challenging projects and her capacity to write in a distinctive and compelling style impressed Madden. She was given a full-time job on the newspaper crew right away.

Bly’s most well-known assignment, which solidified her image as a fearless investigative journalist, was given to her by Madden in 1887. On Blackwell’s Island in New York City, the Women’s Lunatic Asylum, he urged her to pose as a patient there.

Bly stayed at the asylum for ten days, recording the dreadful conditions and mistreatment she saw there. Her later stories, which appeared in the Dispatch, exposed the horrifying treatment of mentally ill patients and sparked urgent reforms.

The Blackwell’s Island exposes that Bly worked on propelled her to national fame and established her as a household figure. She kept working for the Pittsburgh Dispatch for a number of years, writing about a variety of subjects, including politics, crime, and human interest tales.

She ultimately switched to other newspapers and magazines, such as Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, and continued to establish herself as one of the most fearless and significant journalists of her era there.

Nellie Bly, in summary, received the support and opportunities she required from the Pittsburgh Dispatch to begin her career as a trailblazing investigative journalist. The newspaper saw her potential and ability, and with its assignments and direction, Bly was able to hone her abilities and make a name for herself in the journalism industry.

2.2. Asylum Expose

Nellie Bly, one of the most important investigative writers of the late 19th century, owes much of her success to the asylum exposé.

Nellie Bly was employed as a correspondent in 1887 by the Joseph Pulitzer-owned New York World. John Cockerill, her boss, advised her to go undercover at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island in New York City to look into claims of patient mistreatment and abuse. Bly consented to the task, and for ten days she pretended to be a mentally ill patient while recording the appalling conditions and abuse she saw at the asylum.

Bly’s following series of articles, which were printed in the New York World, made a splash and brought attention to the mistreatment of patients with mental illnesses. Her exposé caused the asylum’s administration and patient care to change significantly, and it also sparked changes in how people with mental illnesses are treated across the country.

Bly’s work was significantly impacted by the asylum exposure as well. She gained widespread recognition and instant notoriety as a result of it. She earned a reputation as a fearless, tenacious journalist who would do whatever it took to reveal injustice and make the powerful answerable. Her reporting on the asylum received high praise for being accurate, thorough, and vivid. It also showed her aptitude for investigative reporting.

The asylum exposé had a major impact on journalism as a whole. It made investigative journalism seem more important and legitimate as a method of uncovering fraud and advancing social justice. Bly’s work established a standard for investigative reporting that would serve as an example to later generations of authors and journalists.

In conclusion, the asylum exposé was a turning point in Nellie Bly’s career that helped her become one of the most well-known and esteemed journalists of her era. Her reporting had a far-reaching effect, influencing important changes in the way people with mental illnesses are treated as well as establishing the value of investigative journalism as a weapon for advancing social justice.

2.3. Late Work-

Nellie Bly continued to have a flourishing career as an investigative journalist, author, and adventurer after the popularity of her Blackwell’s Island exposé.

After producing ground-breaking work at the New York World, Bly went to Mexico to chronicle the country’s revolution. She then wrote a book called “Six Months in Mexico” to document her experiences. She subsequently returned to the country and started working as a journalist for the New York Evening Journal, where she covered stories about social justice and women’s rights.

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Bly garnered media attention once more in 1890 when she attempted to surpass the fictitious mark set by Jules Verne’s “Around the World in Eighty Days.” She left New York on November 14, 1889, and made her way there using a steamship, a train, and a horse-drawn vehicle. She took 72 days, 6 hours, and 11 minutes to complete the trip. A pamphlet titled “Around the World in Seventy-Two Days” detailed her journeys.

For several years, Bly kept up his writing and journalistic job, writing about everything from politics to entertainment. She also worked as an industrialist, creating and patenting a number of goods, such as a milk can and a garbage can that can be stacked.

Bly later married businessman Robert Seaman and took over the running of his steel barrel manufacturing business. Bly kept the business running for a while after Seaman passed away, becoming one of the first female CEOs in the United States.

Nellie Bly stayed a trailblazer and a representative of women’s empowerment throughout her career. Generations of journalists and authors have been inspired by her ground-breaking investigative journalism work, her spirit of exploration, and her dedication to social justice and women’s rights.

So, in short, she became a very great inspiration for many journalists and writers.

3. The Unexplained Death of Nellie Bly: Cause of Her Death

The audience was shocked by Bly’s passing because she had been a household name for many years. Her pioneering journalism work and her spirit of adventure made her a beloved and respected figure, especially among women.

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According to reports, Bly suffered from bronchial pneumonia, a form of pneumonia that affects the bronchial tubes, which contributed to his illness and eventual death. Numerous things, such as bacterial or viral infections, contact with irritants or pollutants, and preexisting medical conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, can contribute to the condition (COPD).

Prior to her passing, Bly’s health had been precarious and she had allegedly previously experienced respiratory issues. Many of her followers and admirers were still shocked by her passing, though.

However, Bly’s reputation endured even after her passing. Future generations of female journalists and authors were made possible by her groundbreaking work as an investigative journalist and her fearless spirit. Her contributions to the journalism industry served to validate the value and necessity of investigative reporting, and her support for women’s rights encouraged countless other women to follow their own ambitions.

In conclusion, bronchial pneumonia, a disease that affects the bronchial tubes and can be brought on by a variety of causes, was the cause of Nellie Bly’s death. Although the public was shocked by her passing, her reputation as a trailblazing journalist, adventurer, and supporter of women’s rights endured.

4. Legacy of Nellie Bly

Long after Nellie Bly passed away, her influence could still be felt. Generations of authors, journalists, and activists have been inspired by her groundbreaking work as an investigative journalist, explorer, and champion of women’s rights.

One of Bly’s greatest achievements was to the growth of investigative journalism. She used investigative journalism to expose corruption, unfairness, and abuse while working undercover on Blackwell’s Island and on other social issues. Her immersion reporting methods, in which she immersed herself in the subject, had an impact on later generations of journalists.

Bly rose to fame as a result of her audaciousness and sense of exploration. During her extensive travels, her reporting on the Mexican Revolution, and her trailblazing work as a female industrialist, she demonstrated her commitment to removing boundaries and challenging the status quo. Generations of women have been motivated to achieve their own dreams and objectives by their willingness to take chances and push themselves above their comfort zone.

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The support Bly provided for women’s rights was a crucial aspect of her legacy. She paved the path for the next generation of feminists with her writing on topics including employment discrimination, equal pay for women, and women’s suffrage.

Also, Bly’s heritage is continued by several accolades and paeans. She was recognized with a US postage stamp in 1998 and was instated into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1989. The Nellie Bly Prize for Investigative Reporting is one of the honors that bears her name.

In conclusion, Nellie Bly’s benefactions to journalism and society as a trailblazing intelligencer, fearless rubberneck, and champion of women’s rights will no way be forgotten. Her sweats promoted the cause of women’s rights, established the value of investigative journalism, and motivated generations of women to follow their intentions. People each across the world are still inspired and told by her name and heritage.

5. Some Works That She Did Throughout Her Life

American journalist, author, and explorer Nellie Bly lived from 1864 to 1922. She is most renowned for her record-breaking journeys and investigative journalism. Here are a few of her most well-known pieces:

5.1. Ten Days in a Mad-House (1887) 

Nellie Bly’s ground-breaking work exposed the horrifying conditions that prisoners were subjected to while she was posing as a patient inside a mental hospital in New York City. The book inspired changes in how patients with mental illness are treated. You can purchase this book on Amazon.

5.2. Around the world in Seventy-Two Days (1890) –

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Nellie Bly’s ground-breaking work exposed the horrifying conditions that prisoners were subjected to while she was posing as a patient inside a mental hospital in New York City. The book inspired changes in how patients with mental illness are treated. You can purchase this book on Amazon.

Nellie Bly became known as one of the most significant journalists of her era and a supporter of social justice and reform through these and numerous other writings.


The loss of Nellie Bly to the media community and to the numerous causes she supported during her life was profound. Her innovative investigative journalistic work—in particular, her exposé on the appalling conditions in mental institutions—inspired reforms and aided in bringing social issues to the public’s attention.

Nellie Bly was well-known for her adventurous expeditions in addition to her journalism, including her record-breaking voyage around the globe in only 72 days. She also supported suffrage and championed women’s rights.

Nellie Bly’s life was cut short, but her writing, as well as her work in journalism and social justice, continue to carry on her legacy. She continues to serve as an example for many people who work to improve the world via their activism and labor.

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