Born Elizabeth Cochran, Nellie Bly chose her pseudonym when she first began working as a journalist in 1885 after sending a fiery response to a piece published in the The Pittsburgh Dispatch. The paper’s editor was impressed by her skill and offered her a job with the paper.
Bly quickly became an incredible reporter, focusing on women’s rights and other social issues. Her most popular piece, “Ten Days in a Mad-House”, was written after she faked insanity in order to report on the conditions of asylums. She found the conditions to be abysmal and her scathing report led to positive changes in the care of the mentally ill.
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By H. J. Myers, photographer [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons