Drawing of Stevens riding his bicycle in a penny-farthing
24 December 1854
|Died||24 January 1935 80) (aged|
Thomas Stevens (24 December 1854– 24 January 1935) was the first person to circle the globe by bicycle. He rode a large-wheeled Ordinary, also known as a penny-farthing, from April 1884 to December 1886. He later searched for Henry Morton Stanley in Africa, investigated the claims of Indian ascetics and became manager of the Garrick Theatre in London.
Stevens, known as Tom,was born in Castle Street, Berkhamsted, the son of William and Ann Stevens. His father was a labourer. Thomas had an older sister, Bridget, and younger, Jane. He went to Bourne Charity School, then became an apprentice grocer. His father emigrated to Missouri in 1868 but returned when his wife became ill and before the rest of the family could also go to America. Tom went with a half-brother but without his parents and sisters in 1871 and the rest of the family followed two years later. They moved to Denver and then to San Francisco, where he learned to ride a bicycle.
Adventure Cyclist described him as "a man of medium height, wearing an oversized blue flannel shirt over blue overalls, which were tucked into a pair of leggings at the knee [and] tanned ' as a nut.'A mustache protruded from his face."It said: "A two-year stint in a Wyoming railroad mill ended when he was run out of town after it became known that he was importing British labourers in exchange for part of their salaries. He later found work in a Colorado mine where he came up with the idea of riding a bicycle across the country."
In 1884 he acquired a black-enameled Columbia 50-inch 'Standard' penny-farthing with nickel-plated wheels, built by the Pope Manufacturing Company of Chicago. He packed his handlebar bag with socks, a spare shirt, a raincoat that doubled as tent and bedroll, and a pocket revolver (described as a "bull-dog revolver", perhaps a British Bull Dog revolver) and left San Francisco at 8 o'clock on 22 April 1884. From Sacramento, Stevens travelled through the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. En route, he was greeted by members of local bicycle clubs, most prominently the president of a chapter of the League of American Wheelmen in Laramie, Wyoming. He had never seen North America east of the Mississippi.He reached Boston after 3,700 miles on wagon trails, railways, canal towpaths and public roads, to complete the first transcontinental bicycle ride on 4 August 1884.
Harper's reported: "More than one-third of the route followed by Mr. Stevens had to be walked. Eighty-three and a half days of actual travel and twenty days' stoppage for wet weather, etc., made one hundred and three and a half days occupied in reaching Boston, the distance by wagon-road being about 3,700 miles. He followed the old California trail most of the way across the plains and mountains, astonishing the Indians, and meeting with many strange adventures."
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who heard Stevens speak at the Massachusetts Bicycle Club, said: "He seemed like Jules Verne, telling his own wonderful performances, or like a contemporary Sinbad the Sailor. We found that modern mechanical invention, instead of disenchanting the universe, had really afforded the means of exploring its marvels the more surely. Instead of going round the world with a rifle, for the purpose of killing something – or with a bundle of tracts, in order to convert somebody – this bold youth simply went round the globe to see the people who were on it; and since he always had something to show them as interesting as anything that they could show him, he made his way among all nations."
Stevens passed the winter in New York and contributed sketches of his transcontinental trip to Outing , a cycling magazine. It made him a special correspondent and sent him on the steamer City of Chicago to Liverpool. He landed there 10 days later, on 9 April 1885.He left his bicycle in the underground storerooms of the London and North Western Railway and went by train to London to arrange his crossing of Europe and investigate conditions in Asia. He was helped by an interpreter at the Chinese embassy who discouraged him from riding across Upper Burma and China.
He returned to Liverpool on 30 April 1885 and on 4 May made a formal start to his ride at Edge Hill church, where several hundred people watched him leave. He wrote:
It began raining within minutes.
He rode, wearing a white military helmetthrough England, passing through Berkhamsted, where he had been born. He recorded that roads in England were better than in America. He took the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe to cross to France and continued through Germany, Austria, Hungary (where he picked up a temporary cycling companion with whom he shared no language), Slavonia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Rumelia, Turkey.
In Constantinople he rested among people who had heard of America, refitted with spare spokes, tires and other parts and a better pistol (a .38 calibre Smith & Wesson), waited for reports of banditry to subside, and then pedalled off through Anatolia, Armenia, Kurdistan, Iraq and Iran, where he waited out the winter in Teheran as a guest of the Shah.
Having been refused permission to travel through Siberia, he set off on 10 March 1886 through Afghanistan although its borders were closed to foreigners and its guards had a fierce reputation. Upon entering the country, Stevens was arrested. As guards took him to his place of detainment, he entertained them with a demonstration of his bicycle, pedalling far ahead of them until an officer caught up on horse and had him wait for the on-foot soldiers to catch up.
He was kept in a villa where he was fed well and gifted new boots, soap and biscuits imported from England. A fine horse was kept in the garden aside his quarters that he might enjoy looking at.
Finally ejected from Afghanistan, Stevens was accompanied back to Persia. Again, he was allowed to speed ahead of his captors so long as he stopped and waited for them occasionally. Eventually, however, the soldiers grew nervous and disassembled his bicycle, strapping the pieces to a packhorse, which later laid upon the larger wheel, breaking many spokes, the most severe damage the penny-farthing experienced upon the trip. Afghan gunsmiths drilled new wholed and stretched new spokes. Some spokes remained subpar, though sufficient to complete the thousands of miles yet ahead.
He took a Russian steamer across the Caspian to Baku; rail to Batoum; steamer to Constantinople and India. In the Red Sea his knowledge of mules was useful to the British Army. He cycled across India, noting that the weather was always hot and the Grand Trunk Road was excellent wheeling and free from bandits. Much of his description of life in India, however, suffers from being based on the opinions of experts rather than his own observations. Another steamer brought him from Calcutta to Hong Kong and southern China. He pedalled to eastern China, encountering great difficulty in asking directions in a language he couldn't pronounce. A Chinese official gave him refuge from rioters who were angry over a war with the French. From the coast he took a steamer to Japan, where he delighted in the calm of that country. The bicycle part of his journey around the world ends 17 December 1886, at Yokohama. His itinerary accounts "DISTANCE ACTUALLY WHEELED, ABOUT 13,500 MILES". Stevens returned by steamer to San Francisco, in January 1887.
Stevens' travels through Japan were reported in the Jijishinpou newspaper. Along the way, Stevens sent a series of letters to Harper's Magazine detailing his experiences and later collected those experiences into a two-volume book of 1,000 pages, Around the World on a Bicycle, which is available in a single-volume paperback and publicly available at digital library projects. The price of an original has been estimated at between $US300 and $US400
The Pope Company preserved Stevens's bicycle until World War II, when it was donated to a scrap drive to support the war effort.
The New York World asked Thomas in 1888 to join its search in East Africa for the explorer Henry Morton Stanley. Stanley had travelled up the Congo but a year and a half had passed without news. Stevens called it "a grand opportunity; the one chance, mayhap, of a lifetime, to spring into fame on the stage of African exploit. How would I Found Stanley look in the libraries with I Found Livingstone?"
Stevens left New York by ship on 5 January 1889.His instructions, he said, were:
Stevens led a six-month expedition, writing for the newspaper of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and hunting big game. He found Stanley's camp in a race with the rival New York Herald and wrote his book, Scouting for Stanley in East AfricaIt concluded:
Stevens then reported from Russia, sailed the rivers of Europe, and investigated miracles claimed by Indian ascetics. His conclusions that "the stories of travelers, from Marco Polo to the latest witness of Indian miracles...are quite true" were greeted with scepticism and his career faltered.A planned tour of London with his Indian photographs fell through.
Stevens returned to England around 1895and married Frances Barnes (née Nation), widowed mother of the actresses Irene and Violet Vanbrugh. He became manager of the Garrick Theatre in London. He died in London of cancer of the bladder and was buried at St Marylebone Cemetery in East Finchley, London.
His publications also include:
A retronym is a newer name for an existing thing that differentiates the original form/version from a more recent one. It is thus a word or phrase created to avoid confusion between two types, whereas previously, no clarification was required.
Sir Henry Morton Stanley was a Welsh-American journalist, explorer, soldier, colonial administrator, author and politician who was famous for his exploration of central Africa and his search for missionary and explorer David Livingstone, whom he later claimed to have greeted with the now-famous line: "Dr Livingstone, I presume?" He is mainly known for his search for the source of the Nile, work he undertook as an agent of King Leopold II of Belgium, which enabled the occupation of the Congo Basin region, and for his command of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition. He was knighted in 1899.
David Livingstone was a Scottish physician, Congregationalist, and pioneer Christian missionary with the London Missionary Society, an explorer in Africa, and one of the most popular British heroes of the late 19th-century Victorian era. He had a mythic status that operated on a number of interconnected levels: Protestant missionary martyr, working-class "rags-to-riches" inspirational story, scientific investigator and explorer, imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader, and advocate of British commercial and colonial expansion.
The penny-farthing, also known as a high wheel, high wheeler or ordinary, was the first machine to be called a "bicycle". It was popular in the 1870s and 1880s, with its large front wheel providing high speeds and comfort.
James Starley was an English inventor and father of the bicycle industry. He was one of the most innovative and successful builders of bicycles and tricycles. His inventions include the differential gear and the perfection of the bicycle chain drive.
A safety bicycle is a type of bicycle that became very popular beginning in the late 1880s as an alternative to the penny-farthing ("ordinary") and is now the most common type of bicycle. Early bicycles of this style were known as safety bicycles because they were noted for, and marketed as, being safer than the high wheelers they were replacing. Even though modern bicycles use a similar design, the term is rarely used today and is considered obsolete.
"Once Upon a Time" is episode 78 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It originally aired on December 15, 1961. It features early film star Buster Keaton in one of his later roles, as an unlikely time traveler, and the opening and closing scenes pay homage to the silent films for which he was famous.
The Good Roads Movement occurred in the United States between the late 1870s and the 1920s. Advocates for improved roads led by bicyclists turned local agitation into a national political movement.
The Review of Reviews was a noted family of monthly journals founded in 1890–1893 by British reform journalist William Thomas Stead (1849–1912). Established across three continents in London (1891), New York (1892) and Melbourne (1893), the Review of Reviews, American Review of Reviews and Australasian Review of Reviews represented Stead's dream of a global publishing empire.
Humber is an English brand of bicycle. Thomas Humber made himself a velocipede in 1868. From that time he built a substantial business in manufacturing tricycles and bicycles while continuously improving their design and construction. His products were so well-made and well-designed they were known as "the aristocrat among bicycles".
George Manville Fenn was a prolific English novelist, journalist, editor and educationalist. Many of his novels were written for young adults. His final book was a biography of his fellow writer for juveniles, George Alfred Henty.
Thomas Humber was a British engineer and cycle manufacturer who developed and patented a safety bicycle (1884) with a diamond-shaped frame and wheels of similar size. It became a pattern for subsequent machines. Humber made many other improvements to bicycles. About 1868 he founded Humber Cycles, the bicycle manufacturing business at Beeston, Nottinghamshire later owned by Humber & Co Limited.
Stephen Farthing is an English painter and writer on art history.
Cassell & Co is a British book publishing house, founded in 1848 by John Cassell (1817–1865), which became in the 1890s an international publishing group company.
Frank George Lenz was an American bicyclist and adventurer who disappeared somewhere near Erzurum, Turkey, then in the Ottoman Empire, in May 1894, during an attempt to circle the globe by bicycle.
Frederick Stanley Arnot was a Scottish missionary who did much to establish missions in what are now Angola, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The Livingstone Inland Mission (LIM) was an evangelical missionary society that operated in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 1878 and 1884.
The Copeland steam bicycle was a steam powered, two-wheeled motor vehicle made by Lucius Copeland in 1881 and is sometimes classed as an early motorcycle.
George R. Bidwell was a pioneering bicycle salesman and manufacturer. Active in politics as a Republican, from July 14, 1897 to April 3, 1902, he was Collector of the Port of New York.
Edward "Teddy" Hale was a British racing cyclist. In 1896 he won the solo-Six Days race in Madison Square Garden in New York City.