John Jakes

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John Jakes
BornJohn William Jakes
(1932-03-31) March 31, 1932 (age 89)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Pen nameJay Scotland
GenreHistorical novels, fantasy, science fiction
Notable works
SpouseRachel (m. 1951)

John William Jakes (born March 31, 1932)[1] is an American writer, best known for American historical & speculative fiction. His Civil War trilogy, North and South, has sold millions of copies worldwide. He is also the author of The Kent Family Chronicles. He has used the pen name Jay Scotland.

Early life and education[edit]

Jakes was born in Chicago, Illinois.[2] He first sold stories to pulp magazines while still in college in the early 1950s.[3] Jakes studied creative writing at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, graduating in 1953. He then earned an M.A. in American literature from Ohio State University. He and Rachel, to whom had been married for 13 months at the time, appeared on the game show Beat the Clock on August 23, 1952. Although they failed to complete the Bonus Round, Rachel won a Sylvania "Jefferson" 20" screen television set.[4]

Writing career[edit]

Cover of Science Fiction Quarterly featuring John Jakes' "The Taint"

Thrilling Wonder Stories, edited by Sam Merwin, published two 1949–1950 letters from Jakes and two of his stories were published in pulp magazines edited by Howard Browne late in 1950, The Dreaming Trees (Fantastic Adventures, November) and "Your Number is Up!" (Amazing Stories, December). Jakes sold his first short story (a 1,500-word story) in 1950.[5]

ISFDB catalogs 28 more speculative fiction stories published 1951 to 1953.[6] Jakes published dozens of stories and several novels during the twenty years following completion of college, many of them fantasy fiction, science fiction and westerns and other sorts of historical fiction. In 1961, Jakes moved to Dayton, Ohio. He lived there for ten years and worked as a copywriter for several advertising agencies while he wrote fiction at night and on the weekends.[7] In 1971, he began to write full-time.

During this time, he was a member of the Swordsmen and Sorcerers' Guild of America (SAGA), a loose-knit group of heroic fantasy authors founded in the 1960s and led by Lin Carter. The eight original members were self-selected by fantasy credentials alone. They sought to promote the popularity and respectability of the "Sword and Sorcery" sub genre (such as Brak the Barbarian stories by Jakes).

Jakes gained widespread popularity with the publication of his Kent Family Chronicles, which became a bestselling American Bicentennial Series of books in the mid to late 1970s,[2] selling 55 million copies. He has since published several more popular works of historical fiction, most dealing with American history, including the North and South trilogy about the U.S. Civil War, which sold 10 million copies and was adapted as an ABC-TV miniseries.

In September 2013, Jakes was named a Florida Literary Legend at the Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writers Conference in St. Augustine, Florida.[8]


Jakes lives on Bird Key in Sarasota, Florida with his wife, Rachel, to whom he has been married since 1951. They have four grown children: Andrea, Dr. Ellen, J. Michael, and Victoria.[8]


Mainstream novels[edit]

The Kent Family Chronicles[edit]

The North and South trilogy[edit]

The Crown Family Saga[edit]

  • Homeland (1993)
  • American Dreams (1998)


  • The Texans Ride North (1952)
  • A Night For Treason (1956)
  • Wear A Fast Gun (1956)
  • The Devil Has Four Faces (1958)
  • The Seventh Man (1958)
  • I, Barbarian (1959) (as Jay Scotland)
  • Johnny Havoc (1960)
  • Sir Scoundrel (1962) (as Jay Scotland)
  • Veils of Salome (1962)
  • Arena (1963) (as Jay Scotland)
  • Making It Big aka Johnny Havoc and the Siren in Red (1968)
  • On Wheels (1973)
  • California Gold (1989)
  • In The Big Country (1993), later reissued as The Bold Frontier (2001)
  • On Secret Service (2000)
  • Charleston (2002)
  • Savannah or a Gift for Mr. Lincoln (2004)
  • Funeral for Tanner Moody (with Elmer Kelton, Robert Randish) (2004)
  • The Gods of Newport (2006)

Science fiction and fantasy[edit]

The first Brak story, "Devils in the Walls", was originally published in Fantastic Stories in 1962. It was collected in The Fortunes of Brak.

Brak the Barbarian[edit]

  • Brak the Barbarian (1968)
  • Brak the Barbarian Versus the Sorceress (also published as "Witch of the Four Winds"(1969)
  • Brak the Barbarian Versus the Mark of the Demons (1969)
  • When the Idols Walked (1978) ISBN 0-671-81373-0
  • The Fortunes of Brak (1980)
  • Brak the Barbarian / Mark of the Demons (omnibus) (2012)
  • Witch of the Four Winds / When the Idols Walked (omnibus) (2012)

Dark Gate[edit]

  • Master of the Dark Gate (1970)
  • Witch of the Dark Gate (1972)


  • When The Star Kings Die (1967)
  • The Planet Wizard (1969)
  • Tonight We Steal the Stars (1969)

Planet of the Apes[edit]

  • Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Other novels[edit]

  • Secrets Of Stardeep (1969)
  • The Hybrid (1969)
  • The Last Magicians (1969)
  • The Asylum World (1969)
  • Mask of Chaos (1970)
  • Monte Cristo #99 (1970)
  • Six-Gun Planet (1970)
  • Black in Time (1970)
  • Time Gate (1972)
  • Mention My Name in Atlantis (1972)
  • On Wheels (1973)
  • Excalibur (1980) with Gil Kane


  • The Best of John Jakes (1977)

Children's books[edit]

  • Susanna of the Alamo (1986)


  • Famous Firsts in Sports (1967)
  • Great War Correspondents (1967))
  • Great Women Reporters (1969)
  • Mohawk: The Life Of Joseph Brant (1969)


The Bastard was adapted as a television mini-series by Universal Pictures Television as the first offering of the highly successful syndicated package, Operation Prime Time (1978). It was followed by The Rebels (1979) and The Seekers (1979). The North and South trilogy was made into three mini-series on ABC in the 1980s and 1990s.


  1. ^ "John Jakes". Contemporary Authors Online. May 15, 2008. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  2. ^ a b L. H. Whittemore (June 19, 1977). "Meet John Jakes: Instant Historian and Millionaire". Youngstown Vindicator. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  3. ^ "Author Jakes on top after long struggle". Sarasota Journal. May 26, 1977. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  4. ^ "BEAT THE CLOCK with Bud Collyer (Aug 23, 1952)". Archived from the original on December 12, 2021 – via
  5. ^
  6. ^ John Jakes at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  7. ^ "Ohio Reading Road Trip | John Jakes Biography".
  8. ^ a b "Tiptoeing toward Florida: Best-selling historical novelist John Jakes is named a Florida Literary Legend".

External links[edit]