William Samuel Harris
William Samuel Harris
Michael Palin as Harris in the 1975 BBC production of Three Men in a Boat
Non-Turtledove Fictional Character
First Appearance: Three Men in a Boat
Creator: Jerome K. Jerome
Nationality: United Kingdom
Date of Birth: 19th century (year unknown)
Turtledove Appearances:
Three Men and...Stories
Fantasy Pastiche
Appearance(s): Both
Type of Appearance: Direct

William Samuel Harris, addressed by his friends simply as Harris, is a fictional character created by Jerome K. Jerome for his novel Three Men in a Boat. He was based on Carl Hentschel, a printer who was a friend of the author Jerome. The humourous trio of hypochondriacs reappear in the sequel Three Men and a Bummel.

Harris in Three Men and...StoriesEdit

William Samuel Harris (just "Harris" to his friends) and his friends J. and George had two encounters with the supernatural over a period of a year. While all three survived those encounters, it was only by luck; all three were certainly haunted afterwards.

The Vampire IncidentEdit

The three encountered a vampire because J. mistook Professor Abraham van Helsing for Herr Slossen Boschen as they were leaving a London pub. While J. apologized for his error, van Helsing was able to convince all three to accompany him on his quest against a vrkoslak. While J. and George were dubious, Harris seemed more thoughtful. J. nonetheless volunteered to bring his dog Montmorency, and van Helsing agreed, welcoming all the help he could get. After collecting the terrier, the group headed for Abney Park Cemetery.[1]

As they walked to the cemetery, Harris confirmed that a vrkoslak was indeed a vampire. Van Helsing warned all three men that while they were on this hunt, they accept what their senses were showing them and act on them.[2] Not long after they entered the cemetery, Montmorency slipped his leash with a snarl and ran off into the darkness. The group heard a terrifying screech and Montmorency returned to the group, licking his muzzle. J. assumed that Montmorency had killed a rat. However, under van Helsing's Döbereiner's lamp, the group found a dead man, naked, his throat torn out. Van Helsing explained that the man, whom he identified by the name Stivvings, had been in a rat form, a step on the path to vampirism, when Montmorency dispatched him. Van Helsing urged them on.[3]

After running around the cemetery, the group finally came upon van Helsing's quarry, a particularly terrifying vampire. When it lunged at van Helsing, van Helsing shot it with a water pistol full of holy water. At van Helsing's urging the group tackled the vampire; J. and his friends held it while van Helsing stabbed it with a stiletto until he finally pierced its heart and it vanished in a puff of ashes and dust. When George commented that it was not the worst way to spend the "small hours", van Helsing applauded his English equanimity.[4]

The Werewolf IncidentEdit

The three managed to avoid the supernatural for a year, until one afternoon when the three decided to luncheon in Limehouse at a Chinese restaurant owned by one Lee Ho Fook.[5]. On the way, they asked a newsboy for directions. After pointing the way, the boy went back to hawking papers, announcing that an old woman had been mutilated the night before. The three followed the newsboy's directions and found the restaurant.[6] They were greeted by the cook, Lee Ho Fook himself, who was of Chinese descent but spoke in an East End accent.[7]

Shortly after they put their order in, another Englishman entered. The newcomer greeted Lee Ho Fook by name, and asked for a big dish of beef chow mein. Lee greeted the newcomer in turn, calling him "Mr. Warren". Warren also gave Lee one of the restaurant's menus, which he said he'd found in Soho.[8]

The three ate their food, finding it delightful and unbearably spicy by turns. During the meal, George noticed that Mr. Warren had hair in the palms of his hands. When J. joked that he probably practiced the "solitary vice" to excess, Harris vaguely hinted that something else likely afflicted him, but didn't elaborate. Mr. Warren finished and left. The other three also finished theirs, paid, and concluded that they were glad to have tried it once, but doubted they'd come back. Harris directed them to a pub nearby, while the same newsboy compared the murder of last night to the killings of Jack the Ripper.[9]

They left the pub after dark, and were relieved to see that the moon was full. George, who'd been dating a woman who worked as a computer at the Greenwich Observatory, informed his friends that it was a harvest moon.[10] J. and Harris began to tease George, until they heard a woman scream from nearby. The three dashed into an alley, and found a wolf-man hybrid crouched over an unconscious woman. Upon seeing the three, it paused, giving Harris time to charge it and stab it with the ferrule of his umbrella. To the amazement of J. and George, Harris succeeded in killing the creature. It soon turned back into a man; all three recognized him as Mr. Warren from Lee Ho Fook's. Harris explained the ferrule was made of silver.[11]

The would-be victim stood, and after speaking in either Polish or Russian, ran off when they couldn't respond. The three also decided to leave, knowing no one would ever believe their story. They encountered a plump man at the mouth of the alley, who asked if they'd heard a scream. They all denied hearing anything in unison as they hurried off.[12]

Three days later, J. saw an item in the Times that one Warren Z. Wolfe had been found stabbed to death in an alley in Limehouse, and that robbery was the suspected motive. When he met with Harris and George, J. quickly realized that they'd already seen the item. Rather than discuss it further, Harris poured a drink and proposed a toast to Three Men well out of the supernatural. The other two drank to that.[13]


  1. Some Time Later: Fantastic Voyages Through Alternate Worlds, pgs. 13-17, TPB.
  2. Ibid., pgs. 17-19.
  3. Ibid., pgs. 20-22.
  4. Ibid. pgs. 22-24.
  5. Ibid., pgs 167-169.
  6. Ibid., pg. 169.
  7. Ibid., pg. 170.
  8. Ibid., pg. 171.
  9. Ibid., pgs. 172-173.
  10. Ibid., pg. 174.
  11. Ibid., pgs. 175-176.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid., pg. 177-178.