Concept

W. W. Jacobs

Summary
William Wymark Jacobs (8 September 1863 – 1 September 1943) was an English author of short fiction and drama. He is best known for his story "The Monkey's Paw". William Wymark Jacobs was born on 8 September 1863 at 5, Crombie’s Row, Mile End Old Town (not Wapping, as is often stated), London, to William Gage Jacobs, wharf manager, and his wife Sophia. His father managed the South Devon wharf in Lower East Smithfield, by the St Katherine Docks and, according to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, "the young Jacobs spent much time on Thames-side, growing familiar with the life of the neighbourhood" and "ran wild in Wapping". William and his siblings were still young when their mother died. Their father then married his housekeeper and had seven more children. Jacobs attended a private London school before Birkbeck College (Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution, now part of the University of London), where he befriended William Pett Ridgcap. In 1879, Jacobs began work as a clerk in the Post Office Savings Bank. By 1885 he had his first short story published, but success came slowly. Yet Arnold Bennett in 1898 was astonished to hear that Jacobs had turned down £50 for six short stories. He was financially secure enough to be able to leave the post office in 1899. Jacobs is remembered for a macabre tale, "The Monkey's Paw", (published 1902 in a short-story collection, The Lady of the Barge) and several other ghost stories, including "The Toll House" (from the 1909 collection Sailors' Knots) and "Jerry Bundler" (from the 1901 Light Freights). Most of his work was humorous. His favourite subject was marine life – "men who go down to the sea in ships of moderate tonnage," said Punch, reviewing his first collection, Many Cargoes, which gained popular success on publication in 1896. Michael Sadleir has said of Jacobs's fiction, "He wrote stories of three kinds: describing the misadventures of sailor-men ashore; celebrating the artful dodger of a slow-witted village; and tales of the macabre.
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