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About the Author
Other works include the essay collections Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1886) and Second Thoughts of an Idle Fellow; Three Men on the Bummel, a sequel to Three Men in a Boat, and several other novels.
Jerome was born in Caldmore, Walsall, England. He was the fourth child of Marguerite Jones and Jerome Clapp (who later renamed himself Jerome Clapp Jerome), an ironmonger and lay preacher who dabbled in architecture. He had two sisters, Paulina and Blandina, and one brother, Milton, who died at an early age. Jerome was registered as Jerome Clapp Jerome, like his father's amended name, and the Klapka appears to be a later variation (after the exiled Hungarian general György Klapka). The family fell into poverty owing to bad investments in the local mining industry, and debt collectors visited often, an experience that Jerome described vividly in his autobiography My Life and Times (1926).
The young Jerome attended St Marylebone Grammar School. He wished to go into politics or be a man of letters, but the death of his father when Jerome was 13 and of his mother when he was 15 forced him to quit his studies and find work to support himself. He was employed at the London and North Western Railway, initially collecting coal that fell along the railway, and he remained there for four years.
Jerome was inspired by his older sister Blandina's love for the theatre, and he decided to try his hand at acting in 1877, under the stage name Harold Crichton. He joined a repertorytroupe that produced plays on a shoestring budget, often drawing on the actors' own meagre resources - Jerome was penniless at the time - to purchase costumes and props. After three years on the road with no evident success, the 21-year-old Jerome decided that he had enough of 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 (1885), a comic memoir of his experiences with the acting troupe, followed by Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1886), a collection of humorous essays which had previously appeared in the newly founded magazine, Home Chimes, the same magazine that would later serialise Three Men in a Boat.
Table of Contents
Are We As Interesting As We Think We Are? Should Women Be Beautiful? When Is The Best Time To Be Merry? Do We Lie A-Bed Too Late? Should Married Men Play Golf? Are Early Marriages A Mistake? Do Writers Write Too Much? Should Soldiers Be Polite? Ought Stories To Be True? Creatures That One Day Shall Be Men How To Be Happy Though Little Should We Say What We Think, Or Think What We Say? Is The American Husband Made Entirely Of Stained Glass Does The Young Man Know Everything Worth Knowing? How Many Charms Hath Music, Would You Say? The white man's burden! Need it be so heavy? Why Didn't He Marry The Girl? What Mrs. Wilkins thought about it Shall We Be Ruined By Chinese Cheap Labour? How To Solve The Servant Problem Why We Hate The Foreigner