Jones, James, 1921-1977

Alternative names
Birth 1921-11-06
Death 1977-05-09
German, English, French

Biographical notes:

James Jones, author, was born November 6, 1921 in Robinson Illinois. He served in the U.S. Army, 1939-1944. Jones lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1950, where he finished his first and most important novel. From Here To Eternity was published in 1951 and won the National Book Award for fiction that year. Although he wrote other novels, short stories and worked on several screen plays, including "The Longest Day," he never again won the critical acclaim of his first book. Jones was nearing completion of his sixth novel, Whistle, when he died in 1977 in Southhampton, New York.

From the guide to the James Jones Letter, 1951, (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)

American novelist.

From the description of James Jones Papers, 1890-1981 (bulk 1941-1978). (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 78685600

Author. Born in Robinson Ill.; died in Southhampton, N.Y. In 1950 lived in Albuquerque, N.M. where he finished his first novel, From here to eternity.

From the description of Letter, 1951 Jan. 10. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 33084406

American author.

From the description of James Jones collection, 1953-1978. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 80239599

From the description of James Jones collection, 1953-1978. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702152874

James Ramon Jones (1921-1977), author, wrote from Here to Eternity and nine other books, including Some Came Running, The Thin Red Line, and Whistle.

From the description of James Jones papers, 1926-1977 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702131623

James Ramon Jones was born to Ramon and Ada Blessing Jones on November 6, 1921. He enlisted in the United States Army upon graduation from high school in his native Robinson, Illinois, in 1939 and was sent to Hawaii, where he served in the 27th Infantry. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 Jones studied at the University of Hawaii while awaiting his regiment's combat assignment. At the end of 1942 his unit landed on Guadalcanal, where he was wounded in January 1943.

Transferred to a military hospital in Memphis for extended treatment, Jones received an honorable discharge from the army in 1944 and returned to Illinois to live with Lowney Handy and her husband Harry. Jones began to pursue a literary career, moving to New York in early 1945 to attend New York University. There he met Maxwell Perkins of Scribner's and was sufficiently encouraged to submit a novel entitled They Shall Inherit the Laughter in early 1946. Perkins turned the manuscript down but gave Jones an advance on a story idea about the pre-WWII army in Hawaii.

Back in Illinois, Jones wrought his army experiences into a novel, From Here to Eternity, published by Scribner's in 1951. The astonishing critical and popular success of Eternity launched his career, and virtually guaranteed a market for his subsequent work. Part of the proceeds from Eternity were used by Jones to help the Handys establish a writers' colony in Marshall, Illinois.

After his marriage to Gloria Mosolino and the publication, to mixed reviews, of Some Came Running, Jones left Illinois for New York and, eventually, Paris, where the couple settled in 1959. Their Paris sojourn became an extended residence, and James and Gloria were central figures in the postwar European literary scene. In the early 1960s Jones published The Pistol and (in continuation of Eternity ) The Thin Red Line . He also began a subsidiary career as a script writer for motion pictures.

Responding to an attractive multi-book contract offer from Dell, Jones left Scribner's at the end of 1964. In the following years he published Go to the Widow-maker and The Ice-cream Headache and Other Stories, but work on the final volume of his military trilogy was interrupted twice to produce The Merry Month of May and A Touch of Danger . In the years after 1964 Jones served as a European talent scout for Dell and spent considerable time critiquing and encouraging young writers.

Following a reportorial trip to Viet Nam in early 1973 Jones published Viet Journal and began to think seriously of a return to the United States. In 1974 he accepted a one-year teaching position at Florida International University in Miami, and wrote the text for the illustrated history WWII . At the end of his FIU tenure, James Jones moved to Sagaponack, Long Island, and began again to work on Whistle, the culmination of the story begun with From Here to Eternity . Struggling with increasing health problems, Jones worked in 1976 and early 1977 to complete Whistle . Following his death on May 9, 1977, his friend Willie Morris added an outline of the unfinished final chapters of the novel, which was published in 1978.

From the guide to the James Jones Papers, 1890-1981, (bulk 1941-1978), (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin)

James Ramon Jones was born in Robinson, Illinois, on November 6, 1921. After graduating from high school in 1939, he enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Hawaii, first at Hickham Field and then at Schofield Barracks. He was on guard duty when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Jones attended the University of Hawaii part-time, but his education was interrupted when his division was transferred to Guadalcanal in 1943. After being wounded he was shipped back to the United States and was discharged in 1944.

Jones lived with Harry and Lowney Handy in Robinson, Illinois, until 1945, when he moved to New York. He attended New York University for a semester. He met Maxwell Perkins and submitted the first draft of "They Shall Inherit the Laughter" to Charles Scribner's Sons. While Scribner's did not accept the manuscript, they did offer Jones an advance of $500.00 for a second novel, From Here to Eternity . He returned to Illinois to live with the Handys while he wrote From Here to Eternity . In 1948 The Atlantic accepted Jones's short story "The Temper of Steel," his first published work. From Here to Eternity was published in 1951 to much critical acclaim, receiving the National Book Award in 1952. In 1953, the film From Here to Eternity was released and it too was a commercial success, winning six Academy awards.

Jones continued to live near the Handys in Marshall, Illinois, until 1957, when he married Gloria Patricia Mosolino. Some Came Running was published in 1958. In that same year he sailed for Europe, settling in Paris where his daughter, Kaylie Ann, was born on August 5, 1960. He returned to the United States to make final revisions of The Thin Red Line (1962) and to work as a consultant and writer for the film The Longest Day . While vacationing in Jamaica in 1963, he began work on Go to the Widow-Maker (1967). The publication of Go to the Widow-Maker was followed by The Ice Cream Headache and other Stories (1968), The Merry Month of May (1971), A Touch of Danger (1973), Viet Journal (1974), and WWII (1975).

Jones left Paris in 1974 to accept a position as visiting professor and writer in residence at Florida International University. He remained in Florida until 1975 when he moved to Sagaponack, Long Island. Despite failing health, he began work on his final book, Whistle (1978), which was left incomplete at his death on May 9, 1977.

From the guide to the James Jones papers, 1926-1977, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)


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  • World War, 1939-1945
  • Publishers and Publishing
  • Literature--History and criticism
  • World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Solomon Islands--Guadalcanal
  • Authors and publishing
  • Novelists, American--20th century--Biography
  • Authors, American
  • World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns
  • Best sellers
  • World War, 1939-1945--Hawaii
  • Soldiers as authors


  • Authors
  • Writer, Prose, Fiction and Nonfiction
  • Soldiers--United States


  • Marshall (Ill.) (as recorded)
  • Paris (France) (as recorded)
  • Marshall (Ill.) (as recorded)
  • Hawaii (as recorded)
  • Solomon Islands--Guadalcanal (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)