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DOUGLAS WILLIAM JERROLD. (1803-1857 )

EDITOR OF “PUNCH”

He was the son of an actor-manager, when he was four ,his family moved to Sheerness ,his father having acquired the lease of a theatre in the High Street Bluetown ,the oldest part of  Sheerness .The theatre ,a wooden building was later demolished and its site used for dock extensions .In 1807 Sheerness was an important naval centre ,its dockyards kept busy by the Napoleonic wars ,so audiences at the Bluetown theatre were largely composed of sailors. Douglas Jerrold attended a local school but finished his formal education by December 1813,when he enlisted  on the Namur, a guard ship in the Nore ,later transferring to a gun-brig used to transport wounded soldiers from France .Quite possibly disenchanted by this experience ,Jerrold left the Navy for good when the ship paid off in October 1815.The family then moved to London ,where Douglas became a printers apprentice and set out to complete  his education .This eventually led to his successful career as a  journalist and playwright whose early acclaimed plays had a nautical theme.

He joined the staff of the newly formed “PUNCH”  in 1841 and contributed until ten days before his death.

His “ Black-eyed Susie “ (1829) and “The Mutiny at the Nore “ (1830) were extremely popular

His keen wit and liberal views –he was a firm opponent of the death penalty- helped to give PUNCH its distinctive character.

Charles Dickens was a close friend and they acted together and had similar views on society.

He wrote to Charles Dickens in 1843  from his holiday visits in   a rented house on the outskirts of Herne Village “ My dear Dickens – I write from  a little cabin built up of ivy and woodbine ……………………………

Jerrold began at Herne the work which some contemporary critics considered among the best prose-writing of the day .”The Chronicles of Clovernook (1843).But he was forced to interrupt his work by yet another attack of rheumatism so severe that, on his return to London ,he had to be carried aboard the boat which departed from Herne Bay.

 

 

( Charles Dickens 1812-1870 in 1817 moved with his family to Sheerness where his father John who was a naval clerk had a temporary posting .They rented a small house next to the theatre before moving to Chatham four months later, The theatre may well have been the same one as that leased by Douglas Jerrold between 1807 and 1815 )