Aubrey Colgate Jones - An American literary icon
Only known picture of Aubrey Colgate Jones
Aubrey Colgate Jones was born in the early part of the 20th century in Sunset County Michigan.
While Jones spent some of his early youth working up north in lumber camps and out west in California, he spent most of his life living quietly in his cabin on Shadow Lake just outside the town of Sunset.
Jones had enjoyed some early success as a poet in the 1920s but it quickly faded as fashion changed. He returned to Sunset and his beloved cabin in the early 1930s and remained here for the rest of his life. To support himself Jones sold fantasy and horror stories to publications such as Weird Tales, Horror Stories and Spicy Mystery Tales.
By the late 1950s the market for pulp stories had almost disappeared and Jones then wrote for men's magazines using various pseudonyms. In time, even these markets disappeared and Jones was reduced to working at part time jobs, including yard work, around town.
Jones was the object of an on-going dispute with millionaire property developer Lucas Haley. Haley had tried to convince Jones to sell his land so that Haley could complete a tourist resort on Shadow Lake. Jones refused to sell despite the offers and threats that Haley continued to make. Haley was not above playing dirty to obtain the land and harassed Jones by using political connections to demand huge back tax payments on his property.
It was only through the intervention of his friend Jonathan Drake that Jones was able to keep his property. Jones never returned to poetry and appeared to prefer life on Shadow Lake. Drake, who became his literary executor believed that Jones continued to write poetry through at least some of this period but that any new works were destroyed in a fire at his cabin.
Jones disappeared and was believed killed in a fire which burned down his cabin in August of 1963. This suspicious blaze led many in town to point to Lucas Haley as the likely culprit, however, nothing was ever proven.
Open Mouth Press edition 1967
In early 1966 Jones poetry was rediscovered by a printing collective in Berkley, California. They obtained permission to reprint his books in paperback editions which featured psychedelic cover art. Hippies and other trendy types of the times were drawn to his poetry by the fantastic images it conjured. Then came a scholarly reassessment of the work and Jones began to appear on university English courses. His books were republished in more sedate editions by the respected publishing house Grove Press.
The Grove Press editions of his work have been continuously in print for the past 50 years. A trust established in Jones' name supports talented young poets, Public Broadcasting and various literary causes. The Aubrey Colgate Jones Foundation is currently in the process of rebuilding his cabin on his property on Shadow Lake. When the cabin is completed it will serve as a writer's retreat.
While virtually ignored in his lifetime, Aubrey Colgate Jones is now considered one of the most influential figures in 20th century American literature.
Samples of the poetry of Aubrey Colgate Jones.