J-L

Jones Jack (Wales)

Jack Jones

Not to be confused with his namesake, the leader of the T&G, Jack Jones was briefly a Communist in the Welsh mining valleys and always a chameleon type figure in the political sphere before he settled into being a novelist.

He was born in 1884 at Tai-Harri-Blawdd in Merthyr Tydfil into a mining family. He began work in the mines himself when aged 12. But, at the age of 17, he joined the army and was posted to South Africa with his regiment the Militia Battalion of the Welch. However, he was very unhappy there and ended up deserting. Once recaptured, he was transferred to India. During his 20s Jack Jones began to educate himself and develop his love of the theatre and writing, often taking part in local dramatic productions.

When he eventually returned to Wales he went back to working in the coal mines. In 1914, he was summoned back to his regiment and sent to the front-lines in France and later on Belgium. After suffering shrapnel wounds he was invalided home and appointed as recruiting officer for Merthyr Tydfil. 

After World War One, Jones became a member of the Communist Party. He attended the founding convention in Manchester on behalf of his local union lodge. At this meeting he was chosen to be Corresponding Secretary for the South Wales Region. Jack Jones later founded a branch of the Communist Party at Merthyr Tydfil.

But Jones left the Party after only three years, joining the Labour Party on being appointed to the position of full-time secretary of the miners at Blaengarw in 1923.  In 1926 he had successfully entered a short play he had written entitled `Dad's Double’ into a competition in Manchester, a development that now led to his resignation in 1927 of the post at Blaengarw.

In 1927 he produced his first article for the press entitled:`The Need for a Lib-Lab Coalition’. He was later asked by Lloyd George to join the Liberal's speaking staff and by 1929 he had been adopted as the Liberal candidate for the Neath parliamentary division. Having lost to Labour, Jones then made another rapid political change by becoming a speaker for Mosley's New Party before its more obvious decline into open fascism.

His first novel `Rhondda Roundabout’ was published in 1934. Later work included `Black Parade’ in 1935 and the play `Land of My Fathers’ in 1936. Jack Jones wrote novels, plays and autobiographical works which frequently used the people of the South Wales Valleys and the coalfield as inspiration. He lectured in America in 1941 and 1942 and, during World War Two, spoke to troops on the battle fronts. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to the community and to literature. In February 1970 he won an award from the Welsh Arts Council for `his distinguished contribution to the literature of Wales'. Jack Jones died on the 7th of May 1970.