Jerome K. Jerome -so good they named him twice

Why would any parent do that with a name I wonder? Is it his real name?

Let’s investigate. Here are some interesting facts and quotes:

His middle name is Klapka. (What the….?) Good old Wikipedia explains it all: His father was called Jerome Clapp, who then changed his named to Jerome Clapp Jerome (no wonder his son developed a sense of humour)

“Swearing relieves the feelings—that is what swearing does. I explained this to my aunt on one occasion, but it didn’t answer with her. She said I had no business to have such feelings.”

He wasn’t posh, as I’d assumed. The family seem to have been rather impoverished after bad investments by Dad (JCJ), and this scuppered all JKJ’s plans of becoming a man of letters and he went to work on the railways.

I can see the humorous side of things and enjoy the fun when it comes; but look where I will, there seems to me always more sadness than joy in life.

He did all sorts of jobs- acting, teaching, journalism, before starting to sell humorous articles to magazines.
“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”

Three Men in A Boat  (1889) was actually a novel that he wrote after his honeymoon on a boat on the Thames. In the book his two male compnaions were based on real friends of his though he changed their names. It was an instant success and is still in print today. It is also credited with making the Thames itself a major tourist destination.


“Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.”

He wrote loads of other stuff. But I’ve loved Three Men in a Boat since I read it at school. It wasn’t just humorous though, there is some lovely stuff in there. I defy anybody to read the following and not want to be there:

“…till we, common-place, everyday young men enough, feel strangely full of thoughts, half sad, half sweet, and do not care or want to speak–till we laugh, and, rising, knock the ashes from our burnt-out pipes, and say “Good night,” and, lulled by the lapping water and the rustling trees, we fall asleep beneath the great, still stars, and dream that world is young again….”

 He died aged 68 in Northampton.


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