Douglas Jerrold was an English playwright, author, and journalist. His father was an actor and, although he occasionally undertook child roles at his father’s theatre in Kent, Jerrold held no interest in becoming an actor himself. As a young man, he served at sea during the Napoleonic Wars, before working as a printer’s apprentice in London. After experimenting with writing some short verses and pieces in the sixpenny magazines, Jerrold transitioned into becoming a full-time journalist. His career in journalism saw him contribute to, among others, the Monthly Magazine, the Athenaeum, and Punch. He also founded several short-lived newspapers under his name.
Jerrold began his career as a playwright, writing dramas and farces for the Coburg Theatre in London (now the Old Vic). He was paid little and therefore combined this employment with shared ownership of a small Sunday newspaper. In 1829, Jerrold made his name as a playwright with the nautical melodrama Black Ey’d Susan (1829) at the Surrey Theatre. The timing of the play was perfect as the country was still recovering from the fallout of the war, as well as engaging in a heated battle of the classes which would eventually lead to the Reform Act of 1832. In 1832, he had his first play produced at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (The Bride of Ludgate) and went on to write many more for the theatre until shortly before his death. However, very few of these remain in print. For a short period, Jerrold took on the management of the Strand Theatre with his brother-in-law, but the venture was not a success.
Jerrold died in 1857 and is buried at West Norwood Cemetery; Charles Dickens was a pall-bearer at his funeral.
More about Douglas Jerrold