Nicolette Jones

Writer, Critic and Broadcaster

The American Art Tapes by Nicolette Jones

Nicolette Jones - The American Arts Tapes

Nicolette Jones – The American Art Tapes

Nicolette Jones - The American Arts Tapes, back cover

The American Art Tapes, back cover

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.

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About Nicolette

Nicolette Jones is a writer, journalist, critic and occasional broadcaster (presenting, for instance, Archive on 4: The American Art Tapes). She has been the children’s books reviewer of the Sunday Times for more than two decades,

has been nominated for the Eleanor Farjeon Award for outstanding service to the world of children’s books, and in 2022 was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
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 regular commemorations of Samuel Plimsoll in Folkestone, and a campaign for a memorial, now a mural by Shane Record on the Fishing Museum, as well as a national Plimsoll Day fundraiser for the RNLI. Her book is the basis of a forthcoming Sandstone documentary and a new edition, with a new Foreword, has been published for Plimsoll’s bicentenary in February 2024.

She has collected and annotated a ‘commonplace book’, Writes of Passage: Words to Read Before You Turn 13 (Nosy Crow, 2022).

The American Art Tapes: Voices of Twentieth-Century Art by John Jones and Nicolette Jones (Tate Publishing, 2021) is her tribute to a year in the 1960s in which her father interviewed more than 100 US  artists, and it includes 20 edited interviews with artists from Marcel Duchamp to Yoko Ono. See also her website for more about the work of John Jones.

She has written two books about the illustrator/author Raymond Briggs; the more recent is The Illustrators: Raymond Briggs (Thames & Hudson 2020; also out in Italy, Taiwan and Korea), and she is co-curator of the House of Illustration’s 2021-4 touring Briggs exhibition (The Arc Winchester, Kirkcudbright Galleries, Bowes Museum, Cambridge University Library, Ditchling Museum, Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration at Sadlers Wells).

Collaborating with the ‘Glasses in Classes’ charity campaign, she assembled in 2020 a global anthology of children’s stories and illustrations, Through the Looking Glasses: Stories About Seeing Clearly (free online).

She has also 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 sixth formers online.

A professional chair of literary events, she has appeared at festivals for many years (particular favourites have been 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, and instigated and directed (for seven years) the St Hilda’s College Writers Day at the Festival.  

Jones 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 she sees a lot of theatre, and where, pre-pandemic, she was known as a local community activist.   

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.

Val McDermid

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.

Sarah Churchwell

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.

Anne Fine

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.

Philip Pullman

Whenever I do an event, I’m glad if Nicolette is in the chair. She is always informed, articulate and authoritative. Audiences love her.

Anthony Horowitz

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.

Meg Rosoff

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.

Patrick Ness

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
Academic Awards
  • 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)
Civic Awards

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

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