New York Times bestselling biographer Brian Jay Jones spent nearly two decades as a public policy analyst and speechwriter, before turning to biography in 2007. He is presently at work on a biography of Dr. Seuss for Dutton Books.
His most recent book, George Lucas: A Life (Little, Brown, 2016) was named one of Kirkus‘s Best Books of 2016. The first comprehensive biography of the influential creator of Star Wars and Indiana Jones in nearly two decades, George Lucas: A Life was praised as “definitive” (New York Times), “whiz-bang” (People), “must-read” (Parade) and deemed by Rolling Stone as “the one biography for casual and die-hard [Star Wars] fans alike.”
Jim Henson: The Biography (Ballantine, 2013) was a New York Times bestseller, and chosen as the Best Biography of 2013 by Goodreads, as well as one of the year’s Top Ten books by CNN viewers. The first full-length biography of the iconic creator of the Muppets, Jim Henson: The Biography was hailed as “illuminating” (The Atlantic), “insightful” (Parade), “masterful” (Kirkus) and “compulsively readable” (The AV Club).
Brian’s first book, Washington Irving (Arcade, 2008), was acclaimed as the definitive biography of American literature’s first popular author and pop culture icon. The Associated Press deemed it “authoritative,” the Washington Post called it, “engaging, clearly written, and well researched,” while the New York Times summed it up simply as “charming.” Which pretty much made his year.
In 2010, Brian was awarded the St. Nicholas Society of New York’s Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence, joining David McCullough, Ron Chernow, Christopher Buckley, and William Zinsser on the list of medal recipients.
Born in Kansas and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Brian has a degree in English from the University of New Mexico, which he immediately parlayed into a brief career as a manager of a comic book store before getting into politics and writing.
For nearly ten years, he worked as a policy advisor in the United States Senate, serving in the office of U.S. Senator Pete V. Domenici, and then on the U.S. Senate HELP Committee for Chairman James M. Jeffords. He has also served as an associate state superintendent of education for the state of Arizona, a chief of staff for a think tank in Washington, D.C., and as a legislative aide for several elected county officials.
A compelling public speaker and presenter, Brian has discussed his work in a wide variety of venues, from the Smithsonian Institute to the New York Public Library to the Museum of the Moving Image. He has also appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Today, Tavis Smiley, and The Cycle, as well as numerous documentaries, including PBS’s In Their Own Words: Jim Henson. If you’re interested in having him come speak, he can be booked through the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau.
An active member of Biographers International Organization since its inception in 2009, Brian has served as its elected Vice President (2012) and President (2014). He presently sits on its Board of Directors, and serves as a member of the Plutarch Committee, which selects the finalists for the year’s best biography.
Brian currently lives in Virginia with his wife and a very excitable dog who refuses to stay off the furniture. He presently serves as the Associate Director of the Great Lives program at the University of Mary Washington.