Biography of W.W. Jacobs

William Wymark Jacobs, usually known as W.W. Jacobs, was a prominent Edwardian horror and crime writer, playwright, and humorist; he is perhaps best known for his 1902 short story, “The Monkey’s Paw.”

Jacobs was born in 1863 in Wapping, a part of East London near the Thames. His father was a wharf manager. As a child he was known to be rather shy, but he enjoyed traveling to visit his relatives in East Anglia. After leaving private school at sixteen he became a postal bank clerk. He then worked in the savings bank department from 1883-1899.

In 1885 he began to submit some of his writing to Blackfriars, The Idler, and Today. He was also published in the Strand. His first collection was entitled Many Cargoes and came out in 1896; the 1897 novelette The Skipper’s Wooing and the short story collection Sea Urchins followed it. His last collection, Night Watches, was published in 1914. Much of his writing was influenced by his youth spent alongside the River and the characters he met there: stevedores, the derelict and criminal, civil servants, and travelers returning from the British colonies. Other works tended to the macabre and the exotic; he was a favorite of Henry James, G.K. Chesterton, and H.G. Wells.

Jacobs married Agnes Williams, a socialist and suffragist, in 1900. The couple had a relatively well-to-do lifestyle. Jacobs bought other houses at Loughton, Essex. He died at Hornsey Lane, Islington, London in 1943.

Study Guides on Works by W.W. Jacobs

"The Monkey's Paw" is a chilling and suspenseful short story by W.W Jacobs, first included in Harper’s Magazine and then published in England in 1902 in his collection "The Lady of the Barge." The story has been included in dozens of collections,...