Today marks the birthday of Jerome K. Jerome, an English author, editor and humorist. Jerome wanted to grow up and become a politician, or a man of letters. When his parents died at an early age, that put an end to those dreams, and left Jerome and his two sisters to grow up in abject poverty. They tried several things to scrape by, including forming a traveling acting group. After that, and many other ventures fell through, his sisters convinced Jerome to try his hand at writing humorous essays, drawing mostly on his experience as a penniless traveling actor.
Jerome enjoyed moderate success as a writer, he was able to make enough to prevent him and his sisters from starving. Then Jerome penned the book; ‘Three Men In A Boat’, a humorous travelogue about the Thames River and poking fun at Victorian England in the process. The book was tremendously popular, and provided enough money that Jerome could spend his days writing. The book, published in 1889, is still in print over 100 years later, and still enjoyed. Though Jerome would never again see the success he did with that book, he was able to live a comfortable life as a writer. After the book was published, he was hired (over Rudyard Kipling) to become the editor of The Idler magazine, a magazine for men with, shall we say, time on their hands.
Though never again enjoying the success that Three Men in A Boat brought him, he was able to make a comfortable living for himself, his family and his sisters. Not bad for a man who turned to the written word as a last resort. Jerome would later say writing was something he turned to because he could do it without having any money. His sisters encouraged him to write out of desperation, they were starving, and had hoped he could make enough to buy a week’s worth of groceries. He never expected to be able to make a living at it.