(1863-1943) was an English author who is best known for his short stories, particularly his horror and supernatural tales. He was born in London, England, and grew up in a working-class family. His father worked as a dockhand and wharf manager on the South Devon Wharf. Jacobs seems to draw heavily upon his father's experiences working at the docks and his stories often feature the adventures of wayward seamen and mariners working themselves in and out of precarious predicaments. He attended the Merchant Taylors' School and later worked as a clerk in a shipping office.
Jacobs began writing in his spare time, and his first published work was a humorous sketch that appeared in the magazine Punch in 1885. He continued to write and publish short stories and sketches, and his work appeared in a number of popular magazines and newspapers. In 1902, he published his first collection of short stories, Many Cargoes, which included his most well-known story, "The Monkey's Paw".
"The Monkey's Paw" is a horror story about a cursed talisman that grants its owner three wishes, but at a terrible cost. The story was highly successful, and was adapted into a number of plays, films, and other works. It remains one of the most famous and enduring works of horror literature.
Jacobs continued to write and publish short stories and sketches throughout his career, and he was highly regarded for his ability to craft suspenseful and entertaining tales. He died in 1943 at the age of 80.
W.W. Jacobs has become one of my favorite short story writers. If you are an enthusiastic reader of short stories I encourage you to explore more deeply into his short story collections. His stories are consistently well written and often of optimal length with most stories taking about fifteen minutes to read.
On this page you will find an exhaustive listing of his short stories. He is also a featured writer in our gallery of favorite Short Story Collections and Gothic Literature Study Guide. Enjoy reading his works and many other spooky tales in our Gothic, Ghost, Horror & Weird Library and Halloween Stories
Note, although we included The Monkey's Paw in our collection of Twenty Great American Stories, the fact is and stubbornly remains that W.W. Jacobs was an English rather than an American writer.