A Drama in the Air

"A Drama in the Air" (French: "'Un drame dans les airs'") is an adventure short story by Jules Verne. The story was first published in August 1851 under the title "Science for families. A Voyage in a Balloon" ("La science en famille. Un voyage en ballon") in Musée des familles with five illustrations by Alexandre de Bar.[1] In 1874, with six illustrations by Émile-Antoine Bayard, it was included in Doctor Ox, the only collection of Jules Verne's short stories published during Verne's lifetime. An English translation by Anne T. Wilbur, published in May 1852 in Sartain's Union Magazine of Literature, marked the first time a work by Jules Verne was translated into the English language.

A Drama in the Air
by Jules Verne
'A Drama in the Air' by Émile Bayard 4.jpg
Original titleUn drame dans les airs
TranslatorAnne T. Wilbur
Published in"Museé des Familles"
Publication dateAugust 1851
Published in EnglishMay 1852

Plot outlineEdit

Just as the narrator starts the ascent of his balloon, a stranger jumps into its car. The unexpected passenger's only intent is to take the balloon as high as it will go, even at the cost of his and pilot's life. The intruder takes advantage of the long journey to recount the history of incidents related to the epic of lighter-than-air travel.

This short story foreshadows Verne's first novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon.

English publicationEdit

The story has appeared in English translation in the following forms.[2]

As "A Voyage in a Balloon" (translated by Anne T. Wilbur):

  • 1852 – Sartain's Union Magazine of Literature

As "A Drama in Mid-Air" (translated by Abby L. Alger):

  • 1874 – From the Clouds to the Mountains, Boston: Gill

As "A Drama in the Air" (translated by George M. Towle):

  • 1874 – Dr. Ox and Other Stories, Boston: Osgood
  • 1876 – A Winter Amid the Ice, and Other Stories, London: Sampson Low
  • 1911 – Works of Jules Verne, Vol.1, New York: Vincent Parke, ed. Charles F. Horne
  • 1964 – Dr. Ox, and Other Stories, London: Arco/Westport, CT: Associated Booksellers: Fitzroy Edition, ed. I. O. Evans
  • 1999 – The Eternal Adam, and other Stories, London: Phoenix, ed. Peter Costello


  1. ^ Dehs, Volker; Jean-Michel Margot, Zvi Har'El. "The Complete Jules Verne Bibliography: II. Short Stories". Jules Verne Collection. Zvi Har'El. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  2. ^ Evans, Arthur B. (March 2005). "A Bibliography of Jules Verne's English Translations". Science Fiction Studies. XXXII:1 (95): 105–141. Archived from the original on 30 May 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2013.

External linksEdit