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John Joseph Jones, a cousin of Dylan Thomas, arrived in Western Australia in 1948. He worked in rural and civil jobs, and in mechanical engineering. Returning to England in 1950, he then worked on civil engineering projects in northern Canada and visited Fiji before arriving back in Australia in 1951. Jones married Derrice Erskine Field in 1954 and the couple had four children.
In 1959, he graduated from University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Anthropology and English, and winning the William Simpson Prize for English verse in his first year. He gained a teaching certificate from the Claremont Teachers' College.
Jones trained as a journalist with The Albany Advertiser, and lectured in English and Communications at TAFE for twenty years. He worked as an archivist at the Australian National University and as a journalist, teacher, editor and lecturer. He was also a singer, musician and theatre director. Five recordings are available of his poetry and folk music. Jones was a keen proponent of the development of an Australian idiom and an Australian ballad heritage, and gave two recitals of his ballads at the Adelaide Festival in 1964.
Jones also designed, built and managed the Parkerville Amphitheatre, a 2000-seat outdoor complex near Perth. Jones was a President of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, Western Australia and wrote in the genres of drama, poetry, short stories, Australian Studies and theatre.