1889 edition cover
|Author||Jerome Klapka Jerome|
|Publisher||J. W. Arrowsmith|
|Followed by||Three Men on the Bummel|
Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog),published in 1889, is a humorous account by English writer Jerome K. Jerome of a two-week boating holiday on the Thames from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford and back to Kingston. The book was initially intended to be a serious travel guide, with accounts of local history along the route, but the humorous elements took over to the point where the serious and somewhat sentimental passages seem a distraction to the comic novel. One of the most praised things about Three Men in a Boat is how undated it appears to modern readers – the jokes have been praised as fresh and witty.
The three men are based on Jerome himself (the narrator Jerome K. Jerome) and two real-life friends, George Wingrave (who would become a senior manager at Barclays Bank) and Carl Hentschel (the founder of a London printing business, called Harris in the book), with whom Jerome often took boating trips. The dog, Montmorency, is entirely fictional [ citation needed ]but, "as Jerome admits, developed out of that area of inner consciousness which, in all Englishmen, contains an element of the dog". The trip is a typical boating holiday of the time in a Thames camping skiff. This was just after commercial boat traffic on the Upper Thames had died out, replaced by the 1880s craze for boating as a leisure activity.
Following the overwhelming success of Three Men in a Boat, Jerome later published a sequel, about a cycling tour in Germany, titled Three Men on the Bummel (also known as Three Men on Wheels, 1900).
The story begins by introducing George, Harris, Jerome (always referred to as "J."), and Jerome's dog, named Montmorency. The men are spending an evening in J.'s room, smoking and discussing illnesses from which they fancy they suffer. They conclude that they are all suffering from "overwork", and need a holiday. A stay in the country and a sea trip are both considered. The country stay is rejected because Harris claims that it would be dull, the sea-trip after J. describes bad experiences of his brother-in-law and a friend on sea trips. The three eventually decide on a boating holiday up the River Thames, from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford, during which they will camp, notwithstanding more of J.'s anecdotes about previous mishaps with tents and camping stoves.
They set off the following Saturday. George must go to work that day, so J. and Harris make their way to Kingston by train. They cannot find the right train at Waterloo station (the station's confusing layout was a well-known theme of Victorian comedy) so they bribe a train driver to take his train to Kingston, where they collect the hired boat and start the journey. They meet George further up river at Weybridge.
The remainder of the story describes their river journey and the incidents that occur. The book's original purpose as a guidebook is apparent as J., the narrator, describes passing landmarks and villages such as Hampton Court Palace, Hampton Church, Magna Carta Island and Monkey Island, and muses on historical associations of these places. However, he frequently digresses into humorous anecdotes that range from the unreliability of barometers for weather forecasting to the difficulties encountered when learning to play the Scottish bagpipes. The most frequent topics of J.'s anecdotes are river pastimes such as fishing and boating and the difficulties they present to the inexperienced and unwary and to the three men on previous boating trips.
The book includes classic comedy set pieces, such as the Plaster of Paris trout in chapter 17, and the "Irish stew" in chapter 14 – made by mixing most of the leftovers in the party's food hamper:
I forget the other ingredients, but I know nothing was wasted; and I remember that, towards the end, Montmorency, who had evinced great interest in the proceedings throughout, strolled away with an earnest and thoughtful air, reappearing, a few minutes afterwards, with a dead water-rat in his mouth, which he evidently wished to present as his contribution to the dinner; whether in a sarcastic spirit, or with a genuine desire to assist, I cannot say.— Chapter 16
One might have imagined … that the British Empire was in danger. … The Standard spoke of me as a menace to English letters; and The Morning Post as an example of the sad results to be expected from the over-education of the lower orders. … I think I may claim to have been, for the first twenty years of my career, the best abused author in England.— Jerome K. Jerome, My Life and Times (1926)
The reception by critics varied between lukewarm and hostile. The use of slang was condemned as "vulgar" and the book was derided as written to appeal to "'Arrys and 'Arriets" – then common sneering terms for working-class Londoners who dropped their Hs when speaking. Punch magazine dubbed Jerome "'Arry K. 'Arry".Modern commentators have praised the humour, but criticised the book's unevenness, as the humorous sections are interspersed with more serious passages written in a sentimental, sometimes purple, style.
Yet the book sold in huge numbers. "I pay Jerome so much in royalties", the publisher told a friend, "I cannot imagine what becomes of all the copies of that book I issue. I often think the public must eat them."The first edition was published in August 1889 and serialised in the magazine Home Chimes in the same year. The first edition remained in print from 1889 until March 1909, when the second edition was issued. During that time, 202,000 copies were sold. In his introduction to the 1909 second edition, Jerome states that he'd been told another million copies had been sold in America by pirate printers. The book was translated into many languages. The Russian edition was particularly successful and became a standard school textbook. Jerome later complained in a letter to The Times of Russian books not written by him, published under his name to benefit from his success. Since its publication, Three Men in a Boat has never been out of print. It continues to be popular, with The Guardian ranking it No. 33 of The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time in 2003, and no. 25 in 2015 and Esquire ranking it No. 2 in the 50 Funniest Books Ever in 2009. In 2003, the book was listed on the BBC's survey The Big Read.
The river trip is easy to recreate, following the detailed description, and this is sometimes done by fans of the book. Much of the route remains unchanged. For example, all the pubs and inns named are still open.
Audiobooks of the book have been released many times, with different narrators, including Sir Timothy Ackroyd (2013), Hugh Laurie (1999), Nigel Planer (1999), Martin Jarvis (2005) and Steven Crossley (2011).
The BBC has broadcast on radio a number of dramatisations of the story, including a musical version in 1962 starring Kenneth Horne, Leslie Phillips and Hubert Gregg, a three-episode version in 1984 with Jeremy Nicholas playing all of the characters and a two-part adaptation for Classic Serial in 2013 with Hugh Dennis, Steve Punt and Julian Rhind-Tutt.
Peter Lovesey's Victorian detective novel Swing, Swing Together (1976), partly based on the book, featured as the second episode of the television series Cribb (1980).
In 2005 the comedians Griff Rhys Jones, Dara Ó Briain, and Rory McGrath embarked on a recreation of the novel for what was to become a regular yearly BBC TV series, Three Men in a Boat . Their first expedition was along the Thames from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford, recreating the original novel. After this, the trio embarked on a trip from London to the Isle of Wight in Jones's yacht where they would race her against her sister yacht. The following year, Three Men in More Than One Boat saw the three borrowing, stealing, and hitchhiking on numerous vessels to make their way from Plymouth to the Isles of Scilly. For their 2009 adventure, the trio take to the waterways of Ireland, making their way from Dublin to Limerick with Dara's greyhound Snip Nua, and the first episode of Three Men Go to Scotland was broadcast at the end of 2010.
A stage adaptation earned Jeremy Nicholas a Best Newcomer in a Play nomination at the 1981 Laurence Olivier Awards. The book was adapted by Clive Francis for a 2006 production that toured the UK.
A sculpture of a stylised boat was created in 1999 to commemorate Three Men in a Boat on the Millennium Green in New Southgate, London, where the author lived as a child. In 2012 a mosaic of a dog's head was put onto the same Green to commemorate Montmorency.
In 1891, Three Women in One Boat: A River Sketch by Constance MacEwen was published.This book relates the journey of three young university women who set out to emulate the river trip in Three Men in a Boat in an effort to raise the spirits of one of them, who is about to be expelled from university. To take the place of Montmorency, they bring a cat called Tintoretto.
P. G. Wodehouse mentions the Plaster of Paris trout in his 1910 novel Psmith in the City . Psmith's boss, while delivering a political speech, pretends to have personally experienced a succession of men claiming to have caught a fake trout. Psmith interrupts the speech to "let him know that a man named Jerome had pinched his story."
Three Men in a Boat is referenced in the 1956 parody novel on mountaineering, The Ascent of Rum Doodle , where the head porter Bing is said to spend "much of his leisure immersed in a Yogistani translation of it."
In Have Space Suit—Will Travel , by Robert A. Heinlein (1958), the main character's father is an obsessive fan of the book, and spends much of his spare time repeatedly re-reading it.
The book Three Men (Not) in a Boat: and Most of the Time Without a Dog (1983, republished 2011) by Timothy Finn is a loosely related novel about a walking trip.[ citation needed ]
A re-creation in 1993 by poet Kim Taplin and companions resulted in the travelogue Three Women in a Boat.
Gita sul Tevere is an Italian humorous book inspired by this famous English novel.[ citation needed ]
Science-fiction author Connie Willis paid tribute to Jerome's novel in her own 1997 Hugo Award-winning book To Say Nothing of the Dog . Her time-travelling protagonist also takes an ill-fated voyage on the Thames with two humans and a dog as companions, and encounters George, Harris, 'J' and Montmorency. The title of Willis' novel refers to the full title of the original book.
Fantasy author Harry Turtledove has written a set of stories where Jerome's characters encounter supernatural creatures: "Three Men and a Vampire" and "Three Men and a Werewolf," announced to be published in Some Time Later: Fantastic Voyages in Alternate Worlds, by A.J. Sikes, B.J. Sikes, and Dover Whitecliff (2017).A preview audio version of the first story was made available online. Turtledove followed up with "Three Men and a Sasquatch."
Jerome Klapka Jerome was an English writer and humourist, best known for the comic travelogue Three Men in a Boat (1889).
To Say Nothing of the Dog: or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last is a 1997 comic science fiction novel by Connie Willis. It used the same setting which includes time-traveling historians she explored in her story Fire Watch and novels Doomsday Book (1992) and Blackout/All Clear (2010).
The term skiff is used for a number of essentially unrelated styles of small boats. Traditionally, these are coastal craft or river craft used for leisure, as a utility craft and for fishing, and have a one-person or small crew. Sailing skiffs have developed into high performance competitive classes. Many of today's skiff classes are based in Australia and New Zealand in the form of 12 ft (3.66 m), 13 ft (3.96 m), 16 ft (4.88 m) and 18 ft (5.49 m) skiffs. The 29er, 49er, SKUD and Musto Skiff are all considered to developed from the skiff concept, all of which are sailed internationally.
Three Men on the Bummel is a humorous novel by Jerome K. Jerome. It was published in 1900, eleven years after his most famous work, Three Men in a Boat .
Psmith in the City is a novel by P. G. Wodehouse, first published on 23 September 1910 by Adam & Charles Black, London. The story was originally released as a serial in The Captain magazine, between October 1908 and March 1909, under the title The New Fold.
The Barley Mow is a historic public house, just south of the River Thames near the bridge at Clifton Hampden, Oxfordshire, England.
The Bull Inn, also known as The Bull at Sonning or just The Bull, is an historic public house — now also a restaurant and hotel — in the centre of the village of Sonning in Berkshire, England.
Molesey Lock is a lock on the River Thames in England at East Molesey, Surrey on the right bank.
A Thames skiff is a traditional River Thames wooden rowing boat used for the activity of skiffing. These boats evolved from Thames wherries in the Victorian era to meet a passion for river exploration and leisure outings on the water.
Sunbury Lock is a lock complex of the River Thames in England near Walton-on-Thames in north-west Surrey, the third lowest of forty four on the non-tidal reaches. The complex adjoins the right, southern bank about 1⁄2 mile (0.80 km) downstream of the Weir Hotel.
Skiffing refers to the sporting and leisure activity of rowing a Thames skiff. A Thames skiff is a traditional hand built clinker-built wooden craft of a design which has been seen on the River Thames and other waterways in England and other countries for nearly 200 years. Sculling means propelling the boat with a pair of oars (blades) as opposed to rowing which requires both hands on a single oar.
Three in Norway is a travelogue from the 19th century in Norway, written by James A. Lees and Walter J. Clutterbuck. Fjågesund and Syme identify it as one of the most frequently reprinted travel accounts for Norway.
Three Men in a Boat is a 1956 British CinemaScope colour comedy film directed by Ken Annakin and starring Laurence Harvey, Jimmy Edwards, Shirley Eaton and David Tomlinson. It is based on the 1889 novel Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. The film received mixed reviews, but was a commercial success.
Three Men in a Boat is a 1933 British comedy film directed by Graham Cutts and starring William Austin, Edmund Breon, Billy Milton and Davy Burnaby. It is based on the 1889 novel Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome which depicts three men and a dog's adventure during a boat trip along the River Thames.
Three Men in a Boat is a television comedy/documentary series produced by Liberty Bell Productions for BBC Two starring Dara Ó Briain, Rory McGrath and Griff Rhys Jones, first shown on 3 January 2006. In this first rendition, the three participants rowed in a replica wooden skiff from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford.
J. W. Arrowsmith Ltd was a book printer and publisher based in Bristol, England. It became a limited company in 1911, having been an unincorporated company named Arrowsmith. It was closed in 2006.
Three Men in a Boat is a 1920 British silent comedy film directed by Challis Sanderson and starring Lionelle Howard, Manning Haynes and Johnny Butt. It is an adaptation of the 1889 novel Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. The screenplay concerns three friends who go on a boating holiday.
Three Men in a Boat is a 1975 BBC comedy film adapted by Tom Stoppard, directed by Stephen Frears and starring Tim Curry, Michael Palin, and Stephen Moore. It is based on the 1889 novel Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.
Three Men in a Boat is a 1979 Soviet two-part musical-comedy miniseries directed by Naum Birman and based on the eponymous 1889 novel by Jerome K. Jerome.
Two and a Half Men in a Boat is a 1993 travelogue book written by English novelist, screenwriter and playwright Nigel Williams describing his travel on the Thames inspired by Jerome K. Jerome's book Three Men in a Boat. The book has been described as"a whimsical account of a lazy trip up the Thames with friends" but was written to pay a tax bill of £28,000. Like Jerome, Williams travels in a skiff with his dog Badger and two friends, BBC executive Alan and professional explorer John Paul, called JP. The book describes their journey, with frequent references to Jerome and his book.
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