Robert Barr

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Robert Barr (1849-1912)

Event: Holiday 1890

Place: Folkestone

Publication(s) Occasional articles

American humourist Robert Barr (‘Luke Sharp’) arrived in England in December 1889 and spent some time in Folkestone the following summer with Jerome K. Jerome. While their subsequent collaboration on The Idler would end in disarray, Barr maintained close links with the Folkestone Visitors’ List and Society Journal until 1894.

Article In December 1889 the local journal Folkestone Visitors’ List and Society Journal reported excitedly that the humourist Robert Barr of the Detroit Free Press had just arrived in London and was planning an extended stay in Folkestone. When Barr duly arrived in the summer of 1890 his companion was none other than the newly married and newly famous Jerome K. Jerome, who had just published Three Men in a Boat. As a friend of editor and journalist ‘Hal Berte’ (whose real name of John Brown somehow sounds almost more fictional than the pseudonym), Barr was quickly contributing articles to the [Folkestone]] Visitors’ List and Society Journal. Gently mocking the aristocratic pretensions of a town where visitors not only expected to promenade on the Leas, but to do so in the right company, Barr breezily commented, ‘It is doubtless within the memory of the nobility and gentry of Folkestone, that I spent the summer there last year. I can prove this fact, because my name appeared in the Visitors’ List at the time, and if you don’t believe me you can look up the back numbers of that journal.’ Jerome would go on to co-edit Barr’s new publication The Idler from 1892. While he later implied that they had had no previous relationship, he may have been remembering this very holiday in his account of Folkestone in Three Men on the Bummel (1900). While Barr fell out with Jerome and ultimately withdrew from his editorial role at The Idler, he would contribute occasional articles to the Folkestone List until 1894.


[Berte, Hal]. ‘The Kaleidoscope’. Folkestone Visitors’ List and Society Journal. 4 December

 1889. 1.

Sharpe, Luke. ‘A search for a half-crown’. Folkestone Visitors’ List and Society Journal. 27 May

 1891. 9-11.