Gringo Gold History

Harry Jones wrote Gringo Gold during 1965 despite Muller having stated in May 1964 that they were no longer interested in publishing westerns. Jones, ever hopeful, submitted the manuscript to his agency, Curtis Brown, in early November 1965, but it was quick off the mark to say, on 12 November, that it was not hopeful in securing publication.

Curtis Brown went further and didn’t mince its words in saying that it didn’t like the manuscript, despite – or more likely because – Jones had gone out of his way to include what was, according to Muller, required by the Great British Reading Public, to whit more drama, sophistication and sex. That said, the fact that, in Gringo Gold, the young heroine responds with “hot passion” to the bad guy’s embraces and obvious intent was, perhaps, a step too far in what is now called the permissive sixties, but was still ultra–conservative when it came to westerns. These were still viewed in the same terms as morality plays.

Curtis Brown didn’t try too hard to place the book – there is evidence that Gringo Gold was only submitted to Wright & Brown, which company took its time about reading it before rejecting it. Curtis Brown returned the manuscript to Jones on 3 February 1966. Once it was obvious that the UK market for UK–written westerns was well and truly over Jones stopped writing seriously in this genre until his retirement in 1978, when it was indicated that a market for UK–written westerns still existed.

In August 1978, Jones dusted off both Gringo Gold and Guns of Justice and submitted them to John Hale, cheekily claiming Gringo Gold as a newly–written book. Hale asked Jones to cut the book, which he seems to have been reluctant to do. Instead, Jones contacted his old agency, Curtis Brown, in May 1979. Curtis Brown either remembered Jones of old or had a decent filing system and declined to even see the manuscripts!

Jones, seeing the writing on the wall, set about shortening the manuscript and sent the amended work to Hale on 12 December 1979. Hale accepted Gringo Gold on 16 January 1980, offering the same terms as the already accepted Guns of Justice, which was £75 for one edition of not more than 1,500 hardback copies.

The publishing machine ground on, taking its own time about things. Jones sent Hale the jacket blurb on 6 February 1980 and the marked proof was sent to Jones in mid–September. The book was published on 10 March 1981, only sixteen years after it was written. For a book that Curtis Brown claimed to dislike (though it was most likely only stating the ‘party’ line from publishers that didn’t want westerns), Gringo Gold had consistently excellent reviews.

Trivia: Gringo Gold is name–checked as a particular favourite of the Captain of the Pill Ferry in the book Tabitha Miggins, Ship’s Cat (on the Pill Ferry), by Philippa Perry, published 2013.