Jerome Klapka Jerome had to begin earning his own living at an early age. From the age of fourteen, he was a railway clerk, a teacher, an actor, and a newspaperman. His career as an actor led in 1885 to his first book, On the Stage—and Off: The Brief Career of a Would-be Actor, and his first play, Barbara, which was produced in 1886. Fame came to him with the publication of the comic novel Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), which made Jerome a popular author in England and abroad. During the 1880’s he edited and published several periodicals, including The Idler, which he founded with Robert Barr in 1892, and To-Day, a weekly newspaper. He himself considered Paul Kelver his best novel.
Following the production of Barbara Jerome had no further success as a dramatist until long after he was established as a humorist and a novelist. His reputation as a playwright was, however, rekindled with The Passing of the Third Floor Back in 1908, which was followed by many others.
During World War I Jerome, despite his age, served as an ambulance driver for the French. After the war he returned to writing and produced, among other things, the memoir My Life and Times. He died during an automobile tour of England in 1927.
Browning, D. C. Introduction to Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome. New York: Dutton, 1957. An excellent introduction to Jerome and his best-known novel.
Connolly, Joseph. Jerome K. Jerome: A Critical Biography. London: Orbis, 1982. A full-length biography. A thorough overview of Jerome. Includes a good discussion of Three Men in a Boat. Includes an index and a five-page bibliography.
De Vries, Peter. Introduction to Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome. 1964. Reprint. Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books, 1981. A well-written and insightful introduction by an accomplished novelist.
Faurot, Ruth Marie. Jerome K. Jerome. New York: Twayne, 1974. A good, standard biography.
Faurot, Ruth Marie. “Jerome K. Jerome.” In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 34: British Novelists, 1890-1929, Traditionalists, edited by Thomas F. Staley. Detroit: Gale Research, 1984. An extended discussion of Jerome’s work and place in British letters.
Jerome, Jerome K. A Miscellany of Sense and Nonsense from the Writings of Jerome K. Jerome. Gloucester, England: Alan Sutton, 1983. Jerome provides a good look into his own perspective on humorous writing.
Jerome, Jerome K. My Life and Times. Gloucester, England: Alan Sutton, 1983. Jerome’s autobiography is well worth consulting for his own views and stories.
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