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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Jerrold, Douglas William

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Jerrold, Douglas William, an English author, born in London, Jan. 3, 1803, died there, June 8, 1857. His father was manager of a theatre in Sheerness, but Jerrold himself manifested a dislike for the stage, and obtained in 1813 a commission as midshipman. The hard life in service did not suit him; and when paid off, Oct. 21, 1815, he did not attempt to reenter the navy. His father had been ruined as manager, and the family went to London, where in 1818 the boy was apprenticed to a printer, and devoted his leisure to study and reading. His first literary effort was a comedy, "More Frightened than Hurt," written at the age of 15; it was sent to a London theatre, where it remained unread for two years, but met with great success when brought out at Sadler's Wells in 1821. He was afterward employed as a writer for the newspaper on which he had worked as a printer, and in 1825 married and was engaged at a salary to write for the Coburg theatre. In 1829, having quarrelled with the manager of this establishment on account of a play, "Black-Eyed Susan," written several years before, Jerrold left his situation, and went with the MS. to Elliston at the Surrey theatre. It had a run of over 300 nights, and brought in many thousands for the manager, though the author only received about £70. In 1830 the success of a new play, "The Devil's Ducat," at the Adelphi theatre, introduced him to Drury Lane, where he produced "The Bride of Ludgate" and "The Rent Day;" the latter, founded on two pictures by Wilkie, was also strikingly successful. From 1831 to 1836 he wrote "Nell Gwynne," "The Housekeeper," "The Wedding Gown," and "Beau Nash," all of which were successful. In 1836 he undertook the management of the Strand theatre, but failed in the speculation. He had already produced many striking pieces in different magazines. He was in Paris when "Punch" was started in 1841, and on returning he became one of its most popular contributors. His "Q." papers, "Story of a Feather," and the " Caudle Lectures" made his name widely known. In 1843 he started the "Illuminated Magazine;" this was discontinued after two years, and followed by his "Shilling Magazine," which was also a failure. More successful was his connection with "Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper." He was very witty in conversation. "Douglas Jerrold's Wit and Humor," and "The Life and Remains of Douglas Jerrold," by his son, were published in 1858. A partial collection of his works, with the life, has been issued (5 vols., Philadelphia, 1869).