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Jerome K. Jerome (Jerome Klapka Jerome) Biography

(1859–1927), (Jerome Klapka Jerome), On Stage and Off, The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Tama Janowitz Biography to P(atrick) J(oseph Gregory) Kavanagh Biography

British writer, born in Walsall, educated at Marylebone Grammar School, leaving at 14 to become a railway clerk. Later he worked as a schoolmaster, actor, and journalist. On Stage and Off (1884) and The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1886) were both collections of humorous essays. Three Men in a Boat (1889), about a trio of young men and their dog on a boating holiday on the Thames, was immediately successful; Three Men on the Bummel (1900) recounted a tour of Germany with the same characters. Paul Klever (1902) was an autobiographical novel. My Life and Times was published in 1926. Of his many plays his best-known is The Passing of the Third Floor Back (1907). He co-founded the humorous magazine The Idler in 1892, which published the work of several leading comic writers. Jerome's work is predominantly comic, in the tradition of ‘the English clerk at play’, but there is a sombre side that surfaces frequently, even in his funniest books: of the many reflective passages in Three Men in a Boat, some are genuinely tragic in feeling (e.g. the woman suicide), and in Three Men on the Bummel Jerome's judgements on the German character have an ironic thrust seen against nineteenth- and twentieth-century history. In this respect he resembles the later Mark Twain, though his view of human nature is more optimistic.

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