Jerom K. Jerom Three Men in a Boat. Review

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  • Topic: Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat, River Thames
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Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) best known for his comic masterpiece Three Men in a Boat. (1889) Jerome Klapka Jerome was born 2 May 1859 in Belsize House, Bradford Street, Walsall, Staffordshire, in the heart of England. He was the fourth child of Jerome Clapp Jerome, (1807–1872) a well-respected nonconformist lay preacher and architect who died when Jerome was fourteen. Jerome's mother was Marguerite Jones, (d. 1872) daughter of a solicitor. Jerome's middle name was in honour of a family friend, Hungarian exile and hero George Klapka. Jerome had two sisters, Paulina Deodata and Blandina Dominica, and a brother Milton Melancthon. Jerome's childhood was very difficult as his parents were falling into financial ruin and it left its mark on him. His father had a streak of bad luck with an unsuccessful attempt at mining speculation, then in investment of an ironmongers and then coal mining. Early on Jerome wanted to become a Member of Parliament, but that was not to be. He attended the Philological School, later known as the Marylebone Grammar School. In 1872 his mother died and he was on his own. He started work at the London and North Western Railway. He had a number of occupations then including journalism and school teaching, and a number of disappointments with the rejections of many short stories and satires he wrote. His experience as an actor led to his novel On the Stage—and Off (1885) and his play Barbara. (1886) In true Jerome style he dedicated his collection of essays The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1886) to his pipe: "To the friend who, treated with marked coolness by all the female members of my household, and regarded with suspicion by my very dog, nevertheless seems day by day to be more drawn by me, and in return to more and more impregnate me with the odor of his friendship." On 21 June 1888 Jerome married divorcée Georgina Elizabeth Henrietta Stanley Marris, "Ettie" (1859–1938) who had a daughter from her previous marriage, his beloved "Elsie" who would die in 1921. Jerome and Georgina's daughter Rowena was born in 1898. Despite his straitened circumstances he kept his sardonic humour and wrote his slapstick tale of a riverboat trip up the Thames, Three Men in a Boat, (1889) subtitle to say nothing of the dog. The story was inspired by his honeymoon and based on himself and two real-life friends, George Wingrave, whom he'd met while a clerk, and Carl Hentschel whom he'd met through the theatre. "It always does seem to me that I am doing more work than I should do. It is not that I object to the work, mind you; I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours." Three Men in a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog) Jerome's penury had paid off and Three Men in a Boat was an instant success. It clinched his reputation as a humourist and he was encouraged to devote his full efforts to writing. Now well-placed in the heart of literary London, in 1893 Jerome founded the co-weekly Today and in 1892 he founded and co-edited The Idler with his friend and fellow humourist Robert Barr. It was a satirical gentlemen’s illustrated monthly catering to men who appreciated idleness, and extolled the virtues of idle-making pursuits. Jerome was well-connected in literary society at this point and with such mordant and witty contributors as Mark Twain, Luke Sharpe (Barr's pseudonym), Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle it was a huge success. Lampooning Victorian values with essays, cartoons and anecdotal tales, it also contained sports reports and short stories. Another of the many contributors was W.W. Jacobs. "Often he will spend… an entire morning constructing a single sentence,” Jerome wrote. "If he writes a four thousand word story in a month, he feels he has earned a holiday; and the reason that he does not always take it is that he is generally too tired." His controversial style of journalism led to a libel suit in 1897 against Jerome which he lost, costing £9000. He would write of the saga: "I have...
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