Three Men in a Boat

Three Men in a Boat

infobox Book |
name = Three Men in a Boat

image_caption =
author = Jerome K. Jerome
country = United Kingdom
language = English
genre = Comedy novel
publisher = J. W. Arrowsmith
release_date = 1889
media_type = Print (Hardback
pages =
isbn = ISBN 0-7653-4161-1| followed_by = Three Men on the Bummel

"Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)", [The Penguin edition punctuates the title differently: "Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog!"] published in 1889, is a humorous account by Jerome K. Jerome of a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford.

The book was initially intended to be a serious travel guide,Jeremy Lewis' introduction to the Penguin edition.] 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 seem fresh and witty even today.Fact|date=July 2008

The three men are based on Jerome himself (the narrator J.) and two real-life friends, George Wingrave (who went on to become a senior manager in Barclays Bank) and Carl Hentschel (the founder of a London printing business, called Harris in the book), with whom he often took boating trips. The dog, Montmorency, is entirely fictional, but as Jerome remarked, "had much of me in it."Fact|date=September 2008 The trip is a typical boating holiday of the time in a Thames camping skiff. [The boat is called a "double sculling skiff" in the book.] This is just after commercial boat traffic on the Upper Thames had died out, replaced by the 1880s craze for boating as a leisure activity.

There was a less successful sequel,Fact|date=September 2008 about a cycling tour in Germany, entitled "Three Men on the Bummel".

A similar book was published seven years before Jerome's work, entitled "Three in Norway (by two of them)" by J. A. Lees and W. J. Clutterbuck. It tells of three men on an expedition into the wild Jotunheimen in Norway. The similarities are striking.Or|date=September 2008

Plot summary

The story begins by introducing George, Harris, 'J.' (Jerome's narrator) and Montmorency, the dog. The men are spending an evening in J.'s room, smoking and discussing illnesses they fancy they are suffering. They conclude they are suffering from 'overwork' and need a holiday. A stay in the country and a sea-trip are considered, then rejected (J. describes the bad experiences had by his brother-in-law and a friend on sea-trips). The three decide upon boating up the Thames, from Kingston to Oxford, during which they'll camp, notwithstanding more anecdotes from J. regarding mishaps with tents and camping stoves.

The next Saturday, they embark. George must go to work that morning ("George goes to sleep at a bank from ten to four each day, except Saturdays, when they wake him up and put him outside at two") so J. and Harris make their way to Kingston by train. Unable to find the correct train at Waterloo Station, they bribe a driver to take his train to Kingston where they collect their hired boat and start their journey. They meet George later, up-river at Weybridge.

The remainder of the story relates their journey and the incidents that occur. The original purpose as a guidebook is apparent as the narrator describes the passing landmarks and villages such as Hampton Court Palace, Monkey Island, Magna Carta Island and Marlow, and muses upon historical associations of these places. However, he frequently digresses into funny anecdotes that range from the unreliability of barometers for weather forecasting to Harris' ineptness at singing Gilbert and Sullivan songs (that contrasts with his belief that he has a talent for it). The most frequent topics are pastimes such as fishing and boating and the difficulties they present to the inexperienced.

The book includes classic 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 hamper.

Cquote|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 XIV

Reception and History

The reception by critics varied between luke-warm 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 H's. "Punch" dubbed Jerome " 'Arry K. 'Arry" [cite book | title= My Life and Times | last= Jerome | first= Jerome | year= 1926 | publisher= Hodder & Stoughton] . Modern commentators have praised the humour, but criticized 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 remained in print until March 1909 when the second edition was issued. During that time, 202,000 copies were sold ] . Jerome states in the author's introduction to the 1909 second edition, 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 "The Times" of Russian books not written by him, published under his name in order to benefit from his success.Citation
last = Jerome
first = Jerome
title = Literary Piracy in Russia
newspaper = The Times
year =1902
date = July 8 1902
issue= 36814
pages = 4
] Since its publication, "Three Men in a Boat" has never been out of print. It continues to be popular to the current day and in 2003, The Guardian placed it #33 on The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time.

The river trip is easy to re-create, thanks to detailed description, and this is sometimes done by fans. Much of the route remains unchanged. For example, all the pubs and inns named are still open. ["The Blue Posts", 81 Newman Street, London;"The Royal Stag" and the "Manor House" at Datchet; "The Crown" at Marlow; "The George and Dragon" at Wargrave; "The Bull" at Sonning; "The Swan" at Pangbourne; "The Bull" at Streatley; and "The Barley Mow" at Clifton Hampden.]

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, "Three Men in a Boat - To Say Nothing of the Dog!".

Film and television

The story has been turned into several films.

*In 1920 [] with Lionelle Howard as J., H. Manning Haynes as Harris and Johnny Butt as George.
*In 1933 with William Austin, Edmund Breon, and Billy Milton []
*In 1956 with David Tomlinson as J., Jimmy Edwards as Harris and Laurence Harvey as George. []
*In 1961, a German film - "Drei Mann in einem Boot" [IMDB title|0054826|Drei Mann in einem Boot]
*In 1975 BBC produced a version for television adapted by Tom Stoppard, with Tim Curry as J., Michael Palin as Harris, and Stephen Moore as George. []

An episode of the Victorian detective show "Cribb" is based on the book.

The BBC made a 1962 musical adaptation for radio, starring Kenneth Horne, Leslie Phillips and Hubert Gregg.

The trip was re-created in 1993 by poet Kim Taplin and companions, resulting in the travelogue "Three Women in a Boat" ] and in 2005 by comedians Griff Rhys Jones, Dara Ó Briain, and Rory McGrath, and a very nervous dog called Loli, for the BBC.

Other meanings

Among US troops in Iraq, "Three Men in a Boat" is slang for "stop", because of the shape of the Arabic word قف‎ for "stop!": see List of U.S. Army acronyms and expressions#Field slang.

ee also

* Locks on the River Thames



*Jerome, Jerome K. "Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)". Bristol: Arrowsmith, 1889.
*Jerome, Jerome K., Jeremy Lewis. "Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog!" and "Three Men on the Bummel". Penguin classics. London: Penguin Books, 1999. ISBN 0140437509. [ (preview)]

External links

* [ An illustrated HTML version] based on the second (1909) British edition
* [ A public domain audiobook version via]
* [;s=all IMDb Search]
* [ Fly the journey yourself along the Thames, using Google Earth]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Three Men in a Boat — [Three Men in a Boat] (full title , Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog!)) a humorous novel (1899) by Jerome K Jerome. It tells the story of a journey taken by three men and a dog along the River ↑Thames in a rowing boat, and the many… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Three Men in a Boat — (1889) a humorous book by Jerome K. Jerome about three men and a dog who go on holiday and row a boat up the River Thames …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Three Men in a Boat — Drei Mann in einem Boot bezeichnet: einen Roman von Jerome K. Jerome aus dem Jahr 1889, siehe Drei Mann in einem Boot (Roman) einen britischen Film von Ken Annakin aus dem Jahr 1956, siehe Drei Mann in einem Boot (1956) einen deutschen Film von… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Three Men in a Boat — a humorous novel (1899) by Jerome K Jerome. It tells the story of a journey taken by three men and a dog along the River Thames in a rowing boat, and the many accidents that happen to them. * * * …   Universalium

  • three-men-in-a-boat — ˈ ̷ ̷ˌ ̷ ̷ ̷ ̷ ̷ ̷ˈ ̷ ̷ noun : oyster plant 3 …   Useful english dictionary

  • Three Men on the Bummel — infobox Book | name = Three Men on the Bummel image caption = author = Jerome K. Jerome country = United Kingdom language = English genre = Comedy novel publisher = J. W. Arrowsmith release date = 1900 media type = Print (Hardback Paperback)… …   Wikipedia

  • Three Men in a Tub — Infobox Film name = Three Men in a Tub image size = caption = director = Nate Watt producer = Hal Roach writer = narrator = starring = music = cinematography = Art Lloyd editing = William H. Ziegler distributor = MGM released = 26 March, 1938… …   Wikipedia

  • Men of Destiny — Artist Jack Butler Yeats Year 1946 Type Oil on canvas Dimensions 51 cm × 69 cm (20 in × 27 in) …   Wikipedia

  • Men's rights — Rights Theoretical distinctions Natural and legal rights Claim rights and liberty rights Negative and positive rights Individual …   Wikipedia

  • Men O' War — Theatrical poster Directed by Lewis R. Foster Produced by …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.