Nellie Bly: Daredevil Reporter

Essay by jacie_taylorHigh School, 11th grade September 2006

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Nellie Bly knew how to attract attention from the very start. Aided by her mother's gifts of pink gowns, her real name, Elizabeth Jane Cochran, was overshadowed by her fitting nickname, "Pink." She was vivacious and independent (she needed to be in order to stand out from her 14 siblings). Her childhood was going great, until shortly after her sixth birthday her father died, changing dramatically the course of her and her family's life. He died without a will, leaving his wife without ownership to the property and forcing his property to be auctioned off. Pink took on the responsibility of helping raise her siblings. Her mother, in need of financial support, married shortly after her husband's death. Unfortunately, Pink's step-father was abusive and they divorced with they help of Pink's written descriptions of his beatings. This is probably where she developed a passion for women's rights and her writing ability was uncovered.

They moved to an industrializing Pittsburg in the hope of starting a new life. Regardless of the sadness of her childhood, Pink showed a remarkable amount of strength and courage, which she would soon show the world.

When Pink was 18 years old, she read an article in the Pittsburg Dispatch entitled 'What Girls are Good For'. The male author was Erasmus Wilson, known as "Quiet Observer" (or "QO"), and he argued that women were only good for house work and taking care of children. Pink was furious and wrote a letter to the editor disagreeing with the article, signing it "Lonely Orphan Girl." The editor was impressed and asked (via the newspaper) for Lonely Orphan Girl to come forth. The next day Pink went to the Pittsburg Dispatch building and her first article was a rebuttal to QO's piece. Her grammar was less than perfect, but...