Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Jerome K Jerome: On the Stage-And Off & Stage-Land
Jerome K Jerome is one of the great English humourists, best known for Three Men in a Boat and Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow. He wrote many novels, stories, essays and plays; the latter grew from his youthful determination to be an actor. For three years he slaved at the lowest rung of the acting world, in a threadbare repertory company in England. Success was elusive, though he encountered numerous peculiar characters, and fell victim to almost every form of scam and con going in the theatrical world.
Fortunately for his readers, in 1885 he was able to turn this experience into a book, On the Stage--And Off, a very funny memoir of these miserable years. It was his first successful book. Several years later, he followed it with Stage-Land, a hilarious guide to the clichés of late-Victorian theatre, with cynical commentary on all of the character types and situations that plagued most plays of the era.
The books can be read online here and here, or you can buy the shiny new Whisky Priest edition, containing both books, here.
The cover of this edition makes use of photos from old turn-of-the-century theatrical magazines. The main photo, of the actors on stage, seemed apt since it looks like a performance of an extremely muddled, ill-conceived play. The Whisky Priest edition also includes the original Stage-Land illustrations, by J. Bernard Partridge. Click for bigger versions.