Jerome K. Jerome, 1859-1927

Portrait

Biographical note

English writer and humorist, best known for the humorous travelogue Three Men in a Boat. Other works include the essay collections Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow and Second Thoughts of an Idle Fellow; Three Men on the Bummel, a sequel to Three Men in a Boat; and several other novels.

In 1877, Jerome had decided to try his hand at acting, under the stage name Harold Crichton. After three years on the road and with no evident success, a 21 year old Jerome decided he had had enough with stage life, and sought other occupations. He tried to become a journalist, writing essays, satires and short stories, but most of these were rejected. Over the next few years he was a school teacher, a packer, and a solicitor’s clerk. Finally, in 1885, he had some success with On the Stage — and Off, a humorous book whose publication opened the door for more plays and essays. Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, a collection of humorous essays, followed in 1886.

On 21 June 1888, Jerome married. The honeymoon took place on the Thames "in a little boat," a fact which was to have a significant influence on his next, and most important work. Jerome sat down to write Three Men in a Boat as soon as the couple returned from their honeymoon. In the novel, his wife was replaced by his longtime friends George Wingrave (George) and Carl Hentschel (Harris). This allowed him to create comic (and non-sentimental) situations which were nonetheless intertwined with the history of the Thames region. The book, published in 1889, became an instant success and has remained in print until the present.

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