JEROME, Jerome K.

(1859 - 1927)
"I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours." 

Jerome Klapka Jerome wrote with wit and humor, yet his early working life was no laughing matter. Although educated for a few years at grammar school, he was forced to leave school at fourteen after the collapse of the family business and death of his father. Four years working for The London & North West Railway hardly pointed towards future literary greatness; an impression reinforced by three unsuccessful years in acting, equally unsuccessful attempts at writing and journalism, and spells as a schoolteacher, builder’s packer and solicitor’s clerk.

His return to writing with a memoir of his time as an actor, On the Stage – and Off, The Brief Career of a Would-Be Actor, brought some modest success after its publication in 1885.  This was followed a year later by a collection of humorous essays, The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, and Jerome was at last making a living from writing. He married in 1888 and his honeymoon boating on the river Thames inspired him to write the book which catapulted him to fame and fortune: Three Men In a Boat, which appeared in 1889.  Its success enabled him to join the literary establishment and mix with the likes of J.M Barrie, H.G. Wells, and Conan Doyle. However, ‘Boat’ did rather overshadow Jerome’s subsequent, prolific and often high quality output as a novelist, dramatist, editor, columnist and lecturer. The three characters from ‘Boat’ were reprised only once: in Three Men On the Bummel (1900).

Jerome enjoyed travel and it is perhaps fitting that, whilst returning to London from Devon via Northampton, he suffered the stroke and cerebral haemorrhage from which he died two weeks later on 14 June 1927.


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