Martyrs to hypochondria and general seediness, J. and his friends George and Harris decide that a jaunt up the Thames would suit them to a 'T'. But when they set off, they can hardly predict the troubles that lie ahead with tow-ropes, unreliable weather-forecasts and tins of pineapple chunks - not to mention the devastation left in the wake of J.'s small fox-terrier Montmorency. "Three Men in a Boat" was an instant success when it appeared in 1889, and, with its benign escapism, authorial discursions and wonderful evocation of the late-Victorian 'clerking classes', it hilariously captured the spirit of its age. In his introduction, Jeremy Lewis examines Jerome K. Jerome's life and times, and the changing world of Victorian England he depicts - from the rise of a new mass-culture of tabloids and bestselling novels to crazes for daytripping and bicycling.