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INTERESTS - LITERARY INFLUENCES

Literary Influences

  Jules Verne
Jules Verne

Francois was not interested in literature until he was a teenager when he discovered books contained entertainment. At first his love of adventure led him to read the bound copies of ‘Boys Own’ from a second hand bookshop in Cheethamhill in Manchester. These were filled with stories of Vikings and Cowboys written for boys several decades before he was born but he found them full of substance with good story lines and well described characters, unlike the many comic books many 13 olds read at the time.  It is not surprising Francois found the Boys Own Annual well written it was first published in 1878 by the Religious Tract Society and taken by Lutterworth Press in 1939 who published until 1963.  Amongst the many contributors which Francois read were Arthur Conan Doyle who wrote the stories of ‘Sherlock Holmes’, Jules Verne the pioneer of science fiction writing such books such as ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ (1873) ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ (1869-1870) R. M. Blantyre the juvenile fiction writer who penned ‘Coral Island’ (1857) and Robert Baden – Powell founder of the scout movement who wrote ‘Scouting for Boys’ in 1908.

  William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare


When Francois started studying English literature at Cheetham Secondary Modern School at the age of 14 he could not afford to buy any of the novels or books of poetry so he joined the local library on Cheetham Hill Road. Suddenly he found a free treasure trove packed with adventure and diverse entertainment all stored in slim to thick volumes neatly arranged and indexed on shelves. He was soon a regular visitor to the library every evening after (his many spare time jobs) often staying until it closed at nine pm. He discovered Shakespeare and although he often found the bard not as inspiring as some enthusiasts, he did marvel at the breadth of the work and the complex messages so easily delivered in the entertaining story lines.

  Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens

Amongst the many books Francois read as part of his GCE Literature course was Charles Dickens and ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, Shakespeare ‘Henry V’ and ‘Macbeth’ and several poems including ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ by Robert Burns 1790, ‘Christobelle’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1797-1800). Francois also played Everyman (the lead role) in the school play.  Based on late 15th Century morality play 'The Summoning of Everyman', which examines the question of Christian salvation by the use of a series of allegorical characters and what Man must do to achieve salvation.  Events being used to portray abstract ideas was something Francois noted in all the great works of literature.

Like most young boys Francois was interested in sex and had heard of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ (1928) by DH Lawrence so he read the book in the library. He could not believe the words on the page, for the first time the writer wrote about ordinary people and depicted their lives and how they lived in a real way. Even the description of sex in the novel was written from the perspective of understanding the motivation in the individual – rather than a titillating episode which debased the behaviour to satisfy some lust in the reader. After that DH Lawrence became a firm influence on Francois and he read other novels like ‘Women in Love’ (1920).

  DH Lawrence
DH Lawrence

Because of DH Lawrence he would often read during his paper round the Sunday Times supplement which often featured young writers and he learned about the ‘Angry Young Men’. This group of writers wrote about society in the sixties and poked fun at the social levels at the time and like DH Lawrence made the ordinary man the hero. Francois read Alan Silitoe’s, ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ (1958), and the ‘Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’ (1959) both books for Francois were ground breaking for him in their simplicity and style. John Braine and the ‘Room at the Top’ (1957) which was followed by 'Life at the Top' (1962), showed very clearly how you could make it to the top but what the sacrifices must be made and what you lost as well as gained.

Plato  
Plato

After Francois left school and began working his thirst for knowledge started an interest in philosophy and he began reading about the philosophers:  Socrates, Plato and Aristole the Greek philosophers. What intrigued Francois was the Socratic Paradoxes such as, “No one desires evil”, and “virtue is sufficient for happiness”. Socrates concept of ‘wisdom being limited to one’s own awareness of their own ignorance’ and ‘wrong doing based purely on ignorance’. ‘Virtue being based on living their lives based on self development rather than material wealth’ seems a very modern concept even today.  Francois found Plato and Socrates difficult to separate as Plato appeared always to represent Socrates views but Aristole as a student of Plato extended their reasoning with the study of formal logic which was only advanced in the 19th century by mathematical logic which astonished Francois.

When Francois started his own business he spent a lot of his time travelling in trains and planes and as most of these did not have any entertainment he began reading novels and biography’s something he has continued until the present time. These are some of his favourite writers and biographies.

Mario Puzo’s the “Godfather” (1969) and the “Fortunate Pilgrim” (1965) Francois found very entertaining even if you had seen the movie and he has found Puzo a very convincing and articulate writer of this genre of novels.

  Harry Patterson
Harry Patterson

Jack Higgins writing under his pseudonym and real name Harry Patterson with his hero series Liam Devlin is a particular favourite. Francois likes his simple no nonsense style and clear explained danger in his action scenes in such books as, ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ (1975), ‘Touch the Devil’ (1982), and ‘The Eagle Has Flown’ (1985). His ability to build several series characters like Rich and Judy, Sean Dillon, Jack Carter, Simon Vaughn, Paul Chavas and Nick Miller, Francois finds very attractive as each book becomes reading about a well loved hero.

Leon Uris whose Irish based novels like the ‘Trinity’ (1976) awake in Francois his distaste for all that exists in the bully and the oppressive nature of British Colonial rule. Uris remarkable grasp of the large picture told through the eyes of a family and its ups and downs in the turmoil of history Francois considers the very best of historical fiction.

  Edward Rutherfurd
Edward Rutherfurd

Edward Ruthford is very much the modern historical writer of substance with his mammoth books such as ‘Sarum’ (1987), ‘Russka’ (1991), ‘London’ (1997) and ‘the Forest’ (2000). Ruthford takes the reader on a journey over centuries linking the reader to a common thread such as a ‘building’, a ‘area’ or a ‘family’ through centuries to give his readers in insight to how historical events affected the entity which links the story together all his books are a truly remembarable read.

Ken Follett is another adventure wrier Francois admires for his pace in the story, his simple language and his rounded characters. Books such as ‘Eye of the Needle’ (1978), The Man from St. Petersburg (1982), and ‘On Wings of Eagles’ (1983),’ Lie Down with Lions’ (1986), ‘Night over Water’ (1991) and ‘A Place called Freedom’ (1995) are all books Francois has enjoyed as a reader.

Colleen Mc Culaugh and the series of books about the Roman Empire with books such as the ‘First Man in Rome’ (1990), and ‘The Grass Crown’ (1991) make her a truly great historical writer whose attention to detail and accuracy has to be admired. Her ability to pen epics of such consistent enthralling story lines is unique amongst her contemporaries.

Francois has always been interested in the lives of iconic people who changed the world by their ideas and therefore has been an avid reader of biographies.

  Cheaper by the dozen
Cheaper by the dozen

“Cheaper by the Dozen” by Frank Gilbraith and Ernestine Gilbraith Carey published in 1948 tells the story of time and motion study by Frank Bunker Gilbraith and Lillian Muller Gilbraith and their twelve children. Frank Gilbraith, was an icon of indusial engineering with his methodologies for redesigning work using critical analysis and design methods which also used some scientific principals from Frederick Winslow Taylors work ‘The Principals of Scientific Management’ published in 1911. His apparent adaption of his business principals into his private life made Gilbraith and his wife famous and a number of films were made of his life story focusing on his private life.

Francois read ‘Ford the Times, the Man, The Company’ by Allan Nevins: published in 1954 whilst studying to be an industrial engineer. The thing that struck Francois about Ford was his magnificent grasp of the most complex issues which he would simplify and improve. His implementation of the assembly line, the development of one of the first practical automobiles and his marketing savvy in selling the Model T Ford all stamp Henry Ford as a genius who truly changed the world.

  Robert Lenzner
Robert Lenzner

‘The great Getty’ by Robert Lenzner published in 1985 is a biography of one the richest men who ever lived. Getty whilst eventually inheriting wealth was a self made millionaire at the age of 24. The aspect that stood out for Francois about his life was his persistence. He bought land in Saudi Arabia for $70 Million dollars (a huge amount of money in 1949) in a land: where no oil had been discovered and spent $30 million and four years searching for oil before he struck oil and made his vast fortune.  Having been married and divorced five times he is quoted as saying “A lasting relationship with a woman is only possible if you are a business failure”.

Francois read ‘Maxwell’ by Joe Haines published in 1988 at the height of his public popularity and three years before his untimely death and subsequent fall from grace in the eyes of his public. Francois prefers to remember Maxwell for when he was alive to defend himself as an extraordinary individual who raised himself from abject poverty to one of the world’s richest men and a publishing giant. For somebody without formal education Maxwell legacy is his pioneering of the dissemination of highly specialised scientific information for academic research founding over 600 scientific and educational journals. A truly remarkable and world changing achievement.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MARRIAGES
  Barbara May Gammons
  Catherine Ann Horkan
  Laurette Engela
  Sheryll Principe Navor

CHILDREN AND GRAND CHILDREN
  Simon Edward Harrison Jones
  Adam Francois Jones
  Ruth Francoise Jones
  Rachael Francoise Mackenzie
  Mark Francois Jones
  Jaunique Jones
  Ferdinand Napoleon Holland Mackenzie
  Winifried Francoise Annis Mackenzie
  Maria Selena Francoise Navor Jones

INTERESTS
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AUTHOR INTERVIEWED ON THE RADIO

12 July 2010
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