New York Times bestselling biographer Brian Jay Jones is known for covering iconic creative geniuses who have made indelible contributions to pop culture. He has explored the lives and legacies of Jim Henson, George Lucas, Washington Irving, and Dr. Seuss for serious fans and newcomers alike.
His most recent book, Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination (Dutton, 2019), has been celebrated as “nuanced, profoundly human” (NPR), “compelling [and] sweeping in scope” (The New Yorker), and “a rich, anecdotal biography” (Kirkus).
His previous 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,” while the New York Times summed it up simply as “charming,” which pretty much made his year. In 2010, for his work and research on Washington Irving, Brian was awarded the St. Nicholas Society of New York’s 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 local comic book store. For nearly three decades, he’s worked as a speechwriter and policy adviser for elected officials and thought leaders at all levels of government, including two United States Senators and a university president. He’s also served as an associate state superintendent of education in Arizona, a chief of staff for a think tank in Washington, D.C., and as a legislative aide for several elected county officials in Maryland.
A compelling public speaker and presenter, Brian has discussed his work in a wide variety of venues, including the Smithsonian Institute, the New York Public Library, Washington Irving’s “Sunnyside” home, the New England Genealogical Society, and the Museum of the Moving Image in New York. He has also discussed his work on Morning Joe, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Today, The Diane Rehm Show, Tavis Smiley, and The Cycle, as well as in numerous documentaries, including NatGeo’s Top Ten: The ’80s and 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 also served as its elected President (2014-2016) and Vice President (2012-2014), and was a Board member from 2009-2018.
Brian lives in New Mexico where he is presently working on a history of the U.S. Capitol. You can find him running his mouth on Twitter at @brianjayjones, and @OfficialBrianJayJones on Facebook. Or you can e-mail him at brianjayjones (AT) gmail (DOT) com. Go ahead. He’ll write back.