Harry Jones didn’t waste much time after his first book, Montana Nemesis, had been accepted for publication and submitted the manuscript for Cattleman’s Gold even before the first book was published. The contract, offering £100 for UK publication only, was signed 18 August 1960, though it was December before Jones publisher, Frederick Muller, asked, via the Curtis Brown agency, for the jacket blurb. Based on Muller’s acceptance of his second book, Jones was elected to Associate Membership of the Society of Authors in October 1960.
The book was published on 2 June 1961 (Muller’s custom was to issue the paperback version a couple of weeks in advance of the hardback version – or ‘clothback’ version, as they described it, so this is presumably the date the paperback was published). Muller was obviously pleased with the book and dubbed it “An authentic western” – not bad for only an author’s second attempt at the genre. Curtis Brown saw further potential in the book and contacted Jones for permission to translate the book into other languages, to which Jones agreed on 18 June 1961. The agency asked for copies of the book from which to translate and charged the cost against Jones’ account, cheeky buggers. No non-English version has ever been found, so it is assumed that this came to nothing.
Jones’ number five son, Mark, caused a certain amount of trouble one day in either late 1978 (most likely) or early 1979 (less likely) when he spent his 15p pocket money on a paperback copy of Cattleman’s Gold in a junk shop a few doors down from the long-closed Savoy Cinema (at that point a bingo hall) in Station Road, Shirehampton. The paperback edition had a publication date of 1973 and was published by World Distributors Ltd in their Bandolero Western series.
This was the first knowledge that Jones had that Muller had licensed his books to a third party for publication, something that the original contract did not allow – Muller did not hold exclusive rights that let them do this. Not one penny from the sales of his work via World Distributors made its way to Jones and he wrote indignantly to Muller on 30 July 1979 (once he was sure of his legal ground) asking for 50% of all profit on this and any other books to which World Distributors had been assigned rights.
The response from Muller cannot currently be found (there are suitcases full of correspondence as yet uncatalogued), but was, according to Jones’ wife, Alice, along the lines of “We can’t find any paperwork, so tough ***t!” Jones, ever the pragmatist, didn’t waste good time after bad, but instead contacted World Distributors telling them that they had published various of his westerns (at this point only two had been confirmed, the other being Mochita Stage) and did they want to publish any more. This is called logical thinking. Sadly the answer was in the negative; the late 1970s was not, according to most publishing companies, the time to be publishing westerns.
And there the matter slept for over thirty years. Once ownership of Harry Jones’ books was confirmed to rest with Jones’ surviving children, all were keen that all of the books should be made available during the centenary year of his birth.
Sadly, no copy of Cattleman’s Gold could be sourced for digitisation in time (number five son’s copy of the Bandelero Western version seems to be amongst the missing, having done its damage in 1979). Various family members have (Bandolero) paperback copies, but these do not take kindly to the digitisation process, which requires more flexibility in spine than is enjoyed by a paperback. No-one was willing to have their copy destroyed. A hardback copy was eventually sourced in late 2014, so finally allowing every published work by Hal Jons/Harry Graham to be available again for new generations to enjoy.
Publication history: summary
- Frederick Muller (Sombrero Westerns), 1961, paperback, no SBN assigned
- Frederick Muller (Sombrero Westerns), 1961, hardback, no SBN assigned
- World Distributors (Manchester) Ltd. (Bandolero Westerns), 1973, paperback. SBN: 7235 5128 6
- Burnham Priory (Tumbleweed Collection), 2014, ePub edition, ISBN: 978-1-909953-03-1
- Burnham Priory (Tumbleweed Collection), 2014, Kindle edition, ISBN: 978-1-909953-04-8
- Burnham Priory (Tumbleweed Collection), 2014, paperback, ISBN: 978-1-909953-40-6