1863 – 1943
Jacobs was an English writer, primarily of humor. To his displeasure, his first career was a clerical position in the Postal Office Savings Bank; literary success came slowly, and although his first story was published in 1885, he was not able to leave his position as a civil servant until 1899, at which point commercial earnings finally empowered him to pursue writing full-time; mostly, he wrote light-hearted stories about boats. A year later, he married suffragette Agnes Eleanor Williams, and they moved to Essex, where Agnes gave birth to a daughter.
“The Monkey’s Paw” famously depicts a series of wishes gone awry; a husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. White, are bequeathed a magic talisman in the form of a monkey’s paw, granting the pair of them three wishes. Mrs. White attempts to destroy the paw, but Mr. White pulls it from the fire, and wishes for £200, the final payment they need for their home. The money arrives in the form of compensation from the sudden death of their son, killed by machinery at his workplace. Mrs. White then convinces Mr. White to wish him back to life, but as a sudden hideous knocking commences at their door, and Mrs. White goes to open it, Mr. White panics and uses their last wish; Mrs. White opens the door to find no one standing outside.
The Complete Stories of W.W. Jacobs