Nicolette JonesWriter, Critic and Broadcaster
The American Art Tapes by Nicolette Jones
A revelatory road trip through twentieth-century art
In 1965, British artist John Jones left the UK with his young family to live in the USA. There they settled in Greenwich Village, New York, and spent several months on a road trip west, seeking out artists and interviewing as many as they could. All revealed something unique about their work and practice. Many spoke of the times they were living in – 1960s America, a political and cultural crucible.
In 2020 she collaborated with the ‘Glasses in Classes’ charity campaign to assemble a global anthology of children’s stories and illustrations, Through the Looking Glasses: Stories About Seeing Clearly (free online).
She has written two books about the illustrator/author Raymond Briggs; the more recent is The Illustrators: Raymond Briggs (Thames & Hudson Oct 2020), and she is co-curator of the House of Illustration’s 2021-2 touring Briggs exhibition.
She has collected and annotated a ‘commonplace book’, Writes of Passage: Words to Read Before You Turn 13, which will be published by Nosy Crow in spring 2022.
Her book The Plimsoll Sensation: The Great Campaign to Save Lives at Sea (Little, Brown/Abacus) was a Radio 4 Book of the Week and won two maritime literature prizes. (She since instigated now regular commemorations of Samuel Plimsoll in Folkestone as well as a national Plimsoll Day fundraiser for the RNLI.)
And she has worked for The Sunday Times and Channel Four on multi-media children’s book supplements and selections. See also Publications page.
Jones is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow, tutored academic writing at University College London and at Kings College London, and is now an RLF Bridge Writing Fellow for school students in Years 12 and 13.
She is a professional chair of literary events who has appeared at festivals for many years (particular favourites are Charleston and Cheltenham). Her hundreds of interviewees have included Martin Amis, Simon Armitage, Margaret Atwood, Joan Bakewell, Malorie Blackman, Marcus Brigstocke, Vince Cable, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Richard Ford, Maggi Hambling, Elizabeth Jane Howard, John Humphrys, Erica Jong, Judith Kerr, Michael Morpurgo, Yeonmi Park, Terry Pratchett, Salman Rushdie and Emma Thompson …
During the Sunday Times’s sponsorship of the Oxford Literary Festival, she was Director of the Festival’s children’s programme.
She has written for all the broadsheet papers and for the book trade press. She is an experienced book prize judge and a seasoned trustee and committee chair (including of Booktrust’s Lifetime Achievement Award), and involved in a number of literary, charitable and social initiatives. A signatory to Authors4Oceans, a Special Advisor to Empathy Lab, and a Friend of the Story Museum in Oxford, she is also delighted to be an honorary member of the Royal Naval Reserve Officers’ Dining Club.
Originally from Leeds, she grew up in an artist’s family. She studied at Oxford University, has had a long, active association with St Hilda’s College, and went to Yale University on a graduate scholarship as a Henry Fellow. She is married to writer and journalist Nicholas Clee, and they have two daughters. She lives in London, where, pre-pandemic, she was known as a local community activist and saw a lot of theatre.
In 2022 she was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature’
Committees and Panels
Nicolette Jones Recommends: Sunday Times Video Series
Authors and Illustrators interviewed by Nicolette
Testimonials about Nicolette's Chairing
With Nicolette, I know I’m in a safe pair of hands. She’s always thoroughly prepared, her questions are thoughtful and it’s never all about her. There’s nobody I prefer to work with on stage.
Nicolette is just what both speakers and audiences hope for: she does her homework, keeps the conversation relaxed but focused, and balances among speakers and audience members judiciously.
Nicolette doesn’t just bring out the best in her speakers; she somehow also manages to bring out the best in the audience as well, and that enriches the event for everyone.
Nicolette has always struck me as being an ideal chair—she is fair, well informed, good-humoured, and she has an easy rapport with audiences large or small.
Whenever I do an event, I’m glad if Nicolette is in the chair. She is always informed, articulate and authoritative. Audiences love her.
Nicolette Jones is the finest event chair I’ve encountered: intellectually rigorous, witty, and self-effacing enough to let her subjects reveal themselves, yet always prepared with questions that tease out the difficult issues.
Nicolette is one of the best-prepared, most poised chairpersons I’ve ever had. And funny! But not too funny. Because, you know, it’s my panel.
Prizes and Awards
Prizes and Awards
- 1989 Runner-up for the Catherine Pakenham Award for the outstanding woman journalist under the age of thirty
- 2003 Blooming Books nominated for British Book Awards Illustrated Book of the Year
- 2006 Mountbatten Maritime Prize for The Plimsoll Sensation
- 2007 International Winner, US Maritime Literature Awards for The Plimsoll Sensation
- 2012 Nominated for the Eleanor Farjeon Award for distinguished service to the world of children’s books
- Henry Fellowship, Yale University (taken up)
- Frank Knox Fellowship, Harvard University
- Thouron Award, University of Pennsylvania
- Violet Vaughan Morgan Prize for English Literature (Oxford University)
- Agnes Leys Scholarship (St Hilda’s College)
Nicolette Jones also had a hand in encouraging the efforts that earned these awards:
- 2015 Islington in Bloom Best Street Award to Plimsoll Road
- 2015 London in Bloom Certificate of Excellence for the Blackstock Triangle Gardeners
- 2014 Islington in Bloom Best Small Neighbourhood Award and Gold Award for the Blackstock Triangle Gardeners
- 2014 Commendation in the Cultivation Street awards for the Blackstock Triangle Gardeners
- 2011 Islington in Bloom Silver Gilt award for the streets of the Blackstock Triangle
- 2010 Islington in Bloom Second Prize for Best Street for Plimsoll Road, Ambler Road and Prah Road
- 2009 Islington Mayor’s Civic Award for the Neighbours of the Blackstock Road Triangle
- 2009 Islington in Bloom Special Award for Community Participation for Plimsoll Road and Ambler Road