Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Jerome, Jerome K

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Editor.

Icon made by Freepik from


(1859-1927) UK author and editor best known for humorous writing, in particular the Thames-centred boating travelogue Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) (1889). He is of sf interest as editor of The Idler (which see) from its launch in February 1892, initially with the owner Robert Barr and solo from August 1895 until his resignation in November 1897. In addition, he wrote a few relevant short stories. The New Utopia (in Diary of a Pilgrimage (and Six Essays) coll 1891; 2010 ebook) is a sarcastic Satire whose narrator visits the twenty-ninth century via a Sleeper Awakes transition and finds a State-controlled socialist nightmare of compulsory uniformity which at one point anticipates Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" (October 1961 F&SF): "when a man is much above the average size and strength, we cut one of his legs or arms off, so as to make things more equal; we lop him down a bit, as it were." The whole thing proves to be a dream (see Clichés). Better known is the dangerous-Automaton story "The Dancing Partner" (March 1893 The Idler, untitled), one of several Club Story tales told within the loose framework of his mostly nonfantastic novel or Fixup, Novel Notes (May 1892-April 1893 The Idler; 1893); the young woman who rashly asks for an ideal partner who will "hold me firmly, take me round steadily, and not get tired before I do" is literally danced to death by the out-of-control clockwork figure (see Horror in SF; Robots). The titular savant of "The Philosopher's Joke" (in The Passing of the Third Floor Back and Other Stories coll 1907) imposes both Timeslip (to younger selves) and partial Memory Edit on three unhappily married couples, to discover whether a little foreknowledge might lead to a better outcome; it does not.

Jerome also wrote ghost and supernatural stories, sometimes broadly comic as in Told After Supper (coll 1891). The religious allegory "The Passing of the Third Floor Back" (19 November 1904 Saturday Evening Post) is a Mysterious Stranger tale whose 1908 stage adaptation – though greatly disliked by Max Beerbohm in his capacity as theatre critic – was a commercial success and was twice filmed, in 1918 and 1935 [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]; the play's script was published in The Passing of the Third Floor Back: An Idle Fancy in a Prologue, a Play, and An Epilogue (1910). Jerome's short fantasies and strange tales were assembled and resorted in several collections [see Checklist below]. His enduring masterpiece of Humour, Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) is homaged by Connie Willis in To Say Nothing of the Dog; Or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last (1998). [DRL]

see also: R Andom; Claude Houghton.

Jerome Klapka Jerome

born Walsall, Staffordshire: 2 May 1859

died Northampton, Northamptonshire: 14 June 1927

works (highly selected)

collections and stories

about the author

  • My Life and Times (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1920) [nonfiction: autobiography: hb/]


previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies