edited with an introduction and notes by Carolyn W. de la L. Oulton
First published anonymously in 1892, Weeds marked a significant departure from the humour that made Jerome K. Jerome famous. This disturbing story of sexual corruption shows marital fidelity as a perpetual struggle, with Dick Selwyn falling for the attractions of his wife’s young cousin, Jessie. The link between mental and physical corruption is sustained through a central metaphor of a weed-infested garden, which perishes through neglect.
With its radical ending, this story of the dark side of passion casts an important light on late-nineteenth-century sexual politics and gender ideology. Jerome engages with contemporary debates on degeneration and the emergence of the New Woman, offering a powerful evocation of fin-de-siècle society.
Jerome’s publisher Arrowsmith was nervous about the book’s frank portrayal of adultery and it was never available for general sale during his lifetime. This new edition, with a critical introduction, bibliography and explanatory footnotes by Carolyn W. de la L. Oulton, reconsiders Jerome K. Jerome’s important and neglected work.
The appendices include:
- Extracts from Max Nordau’s Degeneration
- Extract from Jerome K. Jerome’s Novel Notes
- ‘Why Women Are Ceasing to Marry’ by Ella Hepworth Dixon
- ‘Does Marriage Hinder a Woman’s Self-development?’ by Mona Caird
Carolyn Oulton is a Reader in Victorian Literature and Co-Director of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers at Canterbury Christ Church University. Her first biography was Let the Flowers Go: A Life of Mary Cholmondeley (Pickering and Chatto 2009) and her biography Below the Fairy City: A Life of Jerome K. Jerome is published by Victorian Secrets.