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JONES, DANIEL, 1959-1994

Daniel Jones fonds. - [1970] -1994. - 4.9 m of textual record and other material.

Biographical Sketch

Daniel Jones was born in 1959 in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1977, at the age of 18, he moved into the city of Toronto and never left. He was never shy to voice his extreme dislike of suburban life.

It was in high school that Jones first showed promise as a writer. He penned a play titled Tricentennial Jesus, which he starred in and directed. The play was performed at his high school and went on to be performed at the Hamilton District Collegiate Drama Festival (1977) and at the Ontario Collegiate Drama Festival (1977), winning awards at both festivals.

At the beginning of his writing career, Jones focused on poetry. Known only as "Jones," he became well-known on the Toronto literary scene for his alcohol-fuelled poetry readings. He became quite well-known after one particularly agressive reading of Jack and Jill, which he performed naked from the waist down. Years later, Jones would express some regret over his reputation as an enfant terrible, preferring to be known as Daniel Jones. He did, however, continue to perform his readings in an unusual manner, including the 1992 launch of his book Obsessions, during which he delivered his reading with a whip in hand and literally launched his book into the audience using a sling.

Not being able to survive solely on a career as a poet, Jones worked in a psychiatric hospital and at various jobs including grill cook, landscaper and administrator for various writers' groups. While these jobs may appear to be of little interest, they are all reflected in Jones' writing in some way.

It was no secret that Jones struggled with alcoholism. In 1985, he gave up drinking altogether and met and married Robyn Gillam. Shortly after giving up drinking, Jones also gave up writing poetry. He began to focus on several careers - fiction writer, critic, editor, creative writing teacher and publisher. In 1989, he and Gillam founded Streetcar Editions, a small press that published little-known writers and Jones was the publisher. He also became quite active on the Toronto literary scene. He was coordinator of the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, served as editor-in-chief of Paragraph magazine, contributed to What! magazine, and served on the editorial collectives of Piranha and Border/Lines. He also regularly reviewed books for such literary publications as Books in Canada, Quill and Quire, Rubicon and Piranha. With all these projects going on, Jones also found time to write and publish his own autobiographical fiction.

After battling severe depression for years, Daniel Jones took his own life at the age of 34 on February 14, 1994. The reaction from the Toronto small-press community was that they had lost a friend as well as an activist for the Canadian small press.

In all Jones published nine works, from chapbooks to full-length works. After his death, it was discovered that he had left behind a completed novel, titled 1978, which Rush Hour Press published in 1999. Another novel, The People One Knows which had been submitted to Mercury Press before his death, was published posthumously.

Scope and Content

The Daniel Jones fonds touches on every stage of his life, from photographs of his early childhood to final drafts of his unpublished novel, 1978. This fonds shows Jones as writer, critic, editor, publisher and activist.

This accession contains a substantial amount of correspondence. It was difficult to separate the correspondence into professional and personal categories, as Jones tended to be friends with individuals who had an interest in the literary world. Many of these letters mix personal topics with discussions of writing and publishing. The Correspondence (Series 1) has been divided into two sub-series, Personal and Professional, with the latter sub-series consisting strictly of correspondence of a business nature, mainly submissions to literary publications. As well, a fair amount of professional correspondence is included in Series 3 Editorial and Publishing because of its relevance to the material in that series.

Series 2 Writings deals with all of Jones' writing, from his high school years until just before his death. This series has been divided into several sub-series, demonstrating the different hats Jones wore as a writer. This series consists of published and unpublished/incomplete works, his work as a critic, and his non-fiction work writing articles for various publications. It also includes his research notes as well as publicity for his published works.

Jones' editorial career is the focus of Series 3. He worked as an editor for Border/Lines, Paragraph and his own publishing house Streetcar. This series includes submissions and correspondence with other writers, administrative information, manuscripts, drafts and production material.

Series 4, the final series of the fonds, consists of Jones' personal articles and is divided into three sub-series. The first contains his date books, which span a 13-year period, and his diaries, which were not as consistently maintained. The second sub-series highlights his academic record as well as employment history and a large section is dedicated to grants applied for and received. The third sub-series consists of artwork by Jones in various media and the fourth sub-series consists of a large collection of photographs, which chronicles his early childhood, his teenage and early adult years to the end of his short life.

Language: material in the fonds is in English.

Restrictions: some restrictions on consultation.

Finding Aid: finding aid available.

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