Jones, Terry 1942–
Jones, Terry 1942–
(Terence Graham Parry Jones)
Born February 1, 1942, in Colwyn Bay, North Wales; son of Alick George Parry (a bank clerk) and Dilys Louisa (a homemaker) Jones; married Alison Telfer (a botanist), 1970; children: Sally, Bill. Education: Attended Royal Grammar School, Guildford; graduated from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, 1964.
Home—London, England. Agent—Casarotto Ramsey, National House, 60-66 Wardour St., London W1V 4ND, England. E-mail—[email protected]
Actor, director, and writer. Performer with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin in Monty Python comedy troupe, beginning 1969. Cofounder of Prominent Features, a production company, and Messiah Pictures, a production company.
Actor in films, including various roles, And Now for Something Completely Different, Columbia, 1972; Sir Bedevere, not-quite-dead corpse, Dennis's wife, head of the Three-Headed Knight, Knight Who Says "Ni," and Herbert, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Cinema V, 1975; Pleasure at Her Majesty's (also known as Monty Python Meets beyond the Fringe), Roger Graef, 1976; Poacher, Jabberwocky, Cinema V, 1977; Mother of Brian, Colin, Simon the Holy Man, Bob Hoskins, Mandy, and saintly passerby, Monty Python's Life of Brian (also known as The Life of Brian), Warner Bros./Orion, 1979; The Secret Policeman's Ball, Tigon/Amnesty International, 1979; various roles, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, Columbia, 1982; The Secret Policeman's Other Ball, Amnesty International, 1982; various roles, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Celandine/Monty Python Partnership/ Universal, 1983; The Secret Policeman's Private Parts, Independent, 1984; King Arnulf, Erik the Viking, Orion, 1989; voice of Sara's mother (uncredited), L.A. Story, TriStar, 1991; Toad, The Wind in the Willows (also known as Mr. Toad's Wild Ride), Columbia, 1996; and voice of Parot, Starship Titanic (video), 1998.
Director of films, including (with Terry Gilliam) Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Cinema V, 1975; Monty Python's Life of Brian (also known as The Life of Brian), Warner Bros./Orion, 1979; Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Celandine/Monty Python Partnership/ Universal, 1983; Personal Services, VIP/Vestron, 1987; Erik the Viking, Orion, 1989; and The Wind in the Willows (also known as Mr. Toad's Wild Ride), Columbia, 1996.
Actor in television series, including Twice a Fortnight, 1967; Do Not Adjust Your Set, BBC, 1968; Complete and Utter History of Britain, BBC, 1969; Monty Python's Flying Circus, BBC, 1969-74, then PBS, 1974-82; and Ripping Yarns, BBC, 1976-77, then PBS, 1979. Actor in television specials, including Life of Python (documentary), Showtime, 1990; Twenty Years of Monty Python (Parrot Sketch Not Included) (documentary), Showtime, 1990; and narrator, Crusades (documentary), History Channel and Arts and Entertainment, both 1995. Actor in television episodes, including Broaden Your Mind, 1968; Drunk vicar, "Nasty," The Young Ones, 1984; "Explode," Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Cartoon Network, 1994; and Ruby, 1997; and also appeared in episodes of Late Night Lineup, The Late Show, and A Series of Birds. Also director of episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, ABC, 1992. Other television appearances include Pythons in Deutschland (movie), Bavaria Atelier, 1971; and presenter, So This Is Progress, 1991.
Also appeared with Monty Python on stage, including various roles, Monty Python's First Farewell Tour, Drury Lane Theatre, London, 1974; various roles, Monty Python Live!, City Center Theatre, New York City, 1976; various roles, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, 1980; and as a member of the comedy troupe Monty Python, appeared in concert tours in U.S., British, and Canadian cities, during the 1970s.
Appeared on albums with Monty Python, including Monty Python's Flying Circus, BBC Records, 1969; Another Monty Python Record, Charisma, 1970; Monty Python's Previous Record, Charisma, 1972; Monty Python's Matching Tie and Handkerchief, Charisma, 1973, Arista, 1975; Monty Python Live at Drury Lane, Charisma, 1974; The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," Arista, 1975; Monty Python Live at City Center, Arista, 1976; Monty Python's Instant Record Collection, Charisma, 1977; Monty Python's Life of Brian, Warner Bros., 1979; Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album, Arista, 1980; Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Columbia Records, 1983; and released a boxed set of albums.
Silver Rose, Montreux Television Festival, 1971, for Monty Python's Flying Circus; Best Television Comedy Show of 1977, from press critics in Britain, and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Light Entertainment Program, 1979, both for Ripping Yarns; Grand Prix Special du Jury Award, Cannes Film Festival, 1983, for Monty Python's The Meaning of Life; Children's Book Award, 1984, for The Saga of Erik the Viking; Michael Balcon Award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema (with Monty Python), BAFTA, 1987; Best of the Fest Award, Chicago International Children's Film Festival, 1998, for The Wind in the Willows.
(With Michael Palin) The Complete and Utter History of Britain (television series), London Weekend Television, 1969.
(With Michael Palin) Secrets (teleplay), BBC-TV, 1973.
(With Michael Palin) Bert Fegg's Nasty Book for Boys and Girls, Methuen (London, England), 1974, new revised edition published as Dr. Fegg's Encyclopaedia of All World Knowledge, Peter Bedrick, 1985.
(With Michael Palin) Their Finest Hours (two short plays, Underhill's Finest Hour and Buchanan's Finest Hour), produced in Sheffield, England, 1976.
(With Michael Palin) Ripping Yarns (television series; also see below), BBC-TV, 1976-77.
(With Michael Palin) Ripping Yarns (stories; adapted from the television series), Methuen (London, England), 1978, Pantheon, 1979.
(With Michael Palin) More Ripping Yarns (stories; adapted from television series Ripping Yarns), Methuen (London, England), 1978, Pantheon, 1980.
Chaucer's Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary (nonfiction), Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1980.
Fairy Tales (for children), Schocken (New York, NY), 1981, published as Terry Jones' Fairy Tales, Puffin (New York, NY), 1986.
The Saga of Erik the Viking (for children), Schocken (New York, NY), 1983.
Nicobobinus (for children), Viking Kestrel (New York, NY), 1985.
Labyrinth (screenplay), Tri-Star, 1986.
Goblins of the Labyrinth (adapted from the film Labyrinth), illustrations by Brian Froud, Pavilion (London, England), 1986.
The Curse of the Vampire Socks (poetry for children), Pavilion (London, England), 1988.
Attacks of Opinion (essays), Penguin (New York, NY), 1988.
Erik the Viking (screenplay), Orion, 1989, published as Erik the Viking: The Screenplay, Applause Book Publishers (New York, NY), 1989.
A Stroud Valley Childhood, A. Sutton (Wolfeboro Falls, NH), 1992.
Fantastic Stories, illustrated by Michael Foreman, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.
A Fish of the World (for children), Pavilion (London, England), 1993, illustrated by Michael Foreman, P. Bedrick (New York, NY), 1994.
The Beast with the Thousand Teeth (children's), Pavilion (London, England), 1993, published as The Beast with a Thousand Teeth, illustrated by Michael Foreman, P. Bedrick (New York, NY), 1994.
Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book, illustrated by Brian Froud, Turner Publications (Atlanta, GA), 1994, H.N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1995.
The Fly-by-Night, illustrated by Michael Foreman, Peter Bedrick Books (New York, NY), 1994.
The Sea Tiger, illustrated by Michael Foreman, P. Bedrick (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Alan Ereira) Crusades, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1995.
(Captured and catalogued by Jones) The Goblin Companion, invented and illustrated by Brian Froud, Turner Publications (Atlanta, GA), 1996.
The Dragon on the Roof (for children), Penguin (London, England), 1996.
(With Brian Froud) Strange Stains and Mysterious Smells: Quentin Cottington's Journal of Faery Research, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.
Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic: A Novel, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1997.
The Wind in the Willows (screenplay; adaptation of the novel by Kenneth Grahame), Columbia, 1997.
The Knight and the Squire (young adult fantasy), illustrated by Michael Foreman, Pavilion (London, England), 1999.
The Lady and the Squire (young adult fantasy), illustrated by Michael Foreman, Pavilion (London, England), 2001.
(With others) Life of Brian Screenplay, Methuen Publishing (London, England), 2002.
Lady Cottington's Fairy Album, Pavilion (London, England), 2002.
Bedtime Stories, (children's book), Pavilion (London, England), 2002.
(Coauthor) Who Murdered Chaucer? A Medieval Mystery, Metheun (London, England), 2003, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Alan Ereira) Terry Jones's Medieval Lives, BBC Books (London, England), 2004.
Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror, Nation Books (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Alan Ereira) Terry Jones's Barbarians, BBC Books (London, England), 2006.
The Goblins of Labyrinth, Abrams (New York, NY), 2006.
Fairy Tales and Fantastic Stories, Anova Children's (London, England), 2007.
COAUTHOR OF MONTY PYTHON SCREENPLAYS
And Now for Something Completely Different (adapted from Monty Python's Flying Circus), Columbia, 1972.
(And director with Terry Gilliam) Monty Python and the Holy Grail (also see below), Cinema 5, 1975.
(And director) Monty Python's Life of Brian (also see below), Warner Brothers, 1979.
Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, Handmade Films/Columbia, 1982.
(And director) Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (also see below), Universal, 1983.
COAUTHOR OF MONTY PYTHON BOOKS
Monty Python's Big Red Book, edited by Eric Idle, Methuen (London, England), 1972, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1975.
The Brand New Monty Python Book, edited by Eric Idle, illustrations by Terry Gilliam (under pseudonym Jerry Gillian) and Peter Brookes, Methuen (London, England), 1973, published as The Brand New Monty Python Papperbok, 1974.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Methuen (London, England), 1977, published as Monty Python's Second Film: A First Draft, 1977.
Monty Python's Life of Brian [and] Montypythonscrapbook, edited by Eric Idle, Grosset, 1979.
The Complete Works of Shakespeare and Monty Python: Volume One—Monty Python (contains Monty Python's Big Red Book and The Brand New Monty Python Papperbok), Methuen (London, England), 1981.
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Grove Press (New York, NY), 1983.
The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus: All the Words, two volumes, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1989.
Pocketful of Python (five volumes), Methuen (London, England), 2000-03.
Holy Grail: Just the Screenplay, Methuen (London, England), 2002.
(With others) The Pythons: Autobiography by the Pythons, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.
COAUTHOR OF OTHER MONTY PYTHON WORKS
Monty Python's Flying Circus (television series), BBC-TV, televised in the United States, PBS-TV, 1969-74.
Pythons in Deutschland (television movie), Batavia Atelier, 1972.
(With Eric Idle and John Cleese) The Fairly Incomplete and Rather Badly Illustrated Monty Python Songbook, Metheun (London, England), 1994, 2005.
Also coauthor of records Monty Python's Flying Circus, 1970, Another Monty Python Record, 1971, Monty Python's Previous Record, 1972, Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief, 1973, Monty Python Live at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, 1974, The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (film soundtrack, includes additional material), 1975, Monty Python Live at City Center, 1976, The Worst of Monty Python, 1976, The Monty Python Instant Record Collection, 1977, Monty Python's Life of Brian (film soundtrack), 1979, Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album, 1980, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (film soundtrack), 1983, and Monty Python's The Final Ripoff (compilation), 1988.
The film Consuming Passions, produced by Samuel Goldwyn and Euston Films in 1988, was based on Jones and Palin's teleplay Secrets; some of Jones's Fairy Tales have been adapted for television.
Attempting to distinguish Terry Jones from the other five members of the popular British comedy troupe Monty Python, Rolling Stone contributor Steve Pond described him as "the short, dark Welshman … who likes to dress up in women's clothes and screech." The all-male Python team often provides just such an opportunity for Jones with its motion pictures and comedy sketches. In Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, for example, Jones appears as a demented homemaker who serves her family a rat tart for supper, while in the biblical parody Monty Python's Life of Brian Jones plays Brian's mother Mandy, a pragmatic madonna figure who stops off on her way to a stoning to ask a stone merchant for "two with points, a big flat one, and a package of gravel." Jones's characterizations are not limited to females, however. They also include a perverse vicar, a nude organist, an overzealous bicycle repairman, and perhaps the most outrageous of all, Mr. Creosote—a grotesquely overweight man with a penchant for projectile vomiting.
Jones began his performing career at Oxford University, where he met and began collaborating with Michael Palin, another future Python. After graduation he eventually got a job with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), writing for programs such as The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set. In 1969 he joined up with Palin, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, and Terry Gilliam to produce Monty Python's Flying Circus, a television series that broke new ground with its loose structure and outrageous humor. The program quickly became a hit in Britain, and when it was aired uncut and uncensored on PBS in America it was the network's highest-rated entertainment show.
When Monty Python decided to make their first independent feature, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Jones and Gilliam were tapped as directors. "The filming was a nightmare," Jones recalled to George Perry in Life of Python. "Everybody was underpaid, including us, and doing it half for love.… We had this loony schedule—scenes that should take a week were shot in a day." Nevertheless the film, which follows the quest of King Arthur and his knights to find the holy cup of Christ, proved a success at the box office. Reviews of the film were also generally favorable. "We saw it last week," a New Yorker critic related, "and it's our very deep, very personal privilege to report that during the entire length of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the audience was either laughing or getting ready to laugh." Richard Schickel, however, saw a deeper edge to Holy Grail's comedy. "Grail is as funny as a movie can get," he stated in Time, "but it is also a tough-minded picture—as outraged about the human propensity for violence as it is in its attack on that propensity."
Jones directed solo for the Pythons' next film, Monty Python's Life of Brian. A satirical treatment of religious fanatics and overblown biblical epics, the film was picketed by groups who saw it as a blasphemous attack on Christ. But these protests misinterpreted the targets of the film, as Jones explained to New York Daily News writer Bruce Smith: "Christ's ideas and what Christ was saying weren't what we wanted to make fun of. You couldn't make fun of them. Our target was the way human beings have interpreted Christ's ideas." Punch contributor Barry Took concurred with this assessment, noting that in Monty Python's Life of Brian, "true religion, being un-mockable, is not mocked, but bogus, catchpenny and lunatic fringe religion is." Despite bannings of the film, Monty Python's Life of Brian was a hit at the box office, and critical response was often favorable as well. John Hind and Stephen Mosco, for instance, stated in Face that Monty Python's Life of Brian is "a technically crisp work, a finely tuned statement in favour of originality, and also an all-time classic comedy in the bargain."
Jones was also at the helm for the troupe's final film, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. The film was almost never made, for years of working apart had made it difficult for the six writers to collaborate again. "There was one point in the writing where we all thought, ‘This is it, we'll never do anything else again,’" Jones told Kim Howard Johnson in The First 200 Years of Monty Python. "We had a format and sixty percent of the material, and couldn't get it into a shape.… I'd always gone on about it being a life story, only nobody could agree about whose life story it was going to be. At this point, I thought everybody was going to go ‘Oooh, Terry's going on about it,’ because that's what I'd been saying for the last two years. But suddenly Eric or John—I can't remember who—said ‘It could be anybody's life story.’ And Eric came up with ‘It's the meaning of life!’ Over that breakfast, it just returned from the brink of disaster."
The several sections of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life address the different stages of human existence, from birth to death. The scenes range from the song-and-dance number "Every Sperm Is Sacred," which lampoons the Catholic Church's stance on birth control, to a depiction of a live organ donation to the vomit-drenching explosion of a gluttonous restaurant diner. "Actually, it doesn't feel like a sketch film," Jones said to Johnson. "It has this weird feeling, this momentum that keeps one hoping it's all about the same thing.… It has a continuity of progress in it. While it's not a conventional story, it is a story." Gene Siskel concurred, noting in his Chicago Tribune review that "the subject matter of the title of the film is … not avoided as much as one might suspect. By making a mockery of much of life, the six English Python comedians are saying that the real meaning lies elsewhere." Monty Python's The Meaning of Life "is a high-water mark in the group's progress," concurred Los Angeles Times reviewer Sheila Benson. "This is social satire of a very high order, not quite Swift, perhaps, but very fast indeed, and pungently and acidly observed."
Jones has had numerous accomplishments outside of Python as well. In the mid-1970s, he collaborated with Palin on the television series Ripping Yarns. Described as a series of "Edwardian English folk-stories," the tales follow such events as a mountain crossing by amphibian; a murder where four different suspects insist on their guilt, not innocence; and the flight of two parents who run away from their boring son. The series was successful in Britain, winning a critics' award, and was subsequently turned into two books. Jones has also continued working in film, penning the screenplay for Jim Henson's Labyrinth and directing the 1987 feature Personal Services.
In addition, Jones wrote, directed, and appeared in the 1989 film Erik the Viking, which was inspired by—but is different from—his book for children. A humorous look at Viking conquest, the film relates the saga of Erik, who discovers that raping and pillaging isn't all it's cracked up to be. After accidentally killing the woman he loves, Erik voyages in search of a way to bring her back to life. "Terry Jones is most adept at historical-based movies," a Variety critic noted, "and with Erik the Viking he has wonderfully recreated the time of Norse sagas and written a funny script packed with typically weird and wonderful characters." Although the occasional gag falls flat, remarked the New York Times contributor Vincent Canby, the film "consistently entertains," as well as "looks terrific and has some very nice, magical special effects."
Jones has exhibited his more serious side by writing the well-received scholarly study, Chaucer's Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary, as well as numerous children's books, which critics have hailed as both humorous and enlightening. In Chaucer's Knight, Jones challenges the traditional interpretation of that Canterbury Tales character as a bellicose, religious zealot and instead suggests he is a mercenary who only fights for money and does not care about moral or religious issues; fighting, for him, is a business. Critics in general have praised Jones's thorough research and found his approach, though controversial, to be fresh, interesting, and not easily dismissed. For example, an Economist reviewer wrote: "Leaving Monty Python far behind him, Terry Jones shows himself to be an historian of impressive competence. His sources are many and impeccable." The reviewer further remarked that Jones's premise could "shake the very foundation of examination boards and send scholars reeling. Yet after the first shock, the theory seems seductive and rapidly becomes irresistible."
Spectator critic Peter Ackroyd commented on Jones's portrayal of the knight's greed and treachery, stating: "There is a great deal to be said for Jones's version. His analysis of Chaucer's text is painstaking, his pursuit of the historical examples is thorough, his conclusions appropriate if somewhat pedestrian." Writing in Books and Bookmen, John Kiteley called Chaucer's Knight "very readable" and remarked that "some professional scholars could learn a thing or two from [Jones's] method of presentation." But while Kiteley termed Jones's analysis of the knight's battles "persuasive and at times convincing," he resisted accepting Jones's basic premise, citing the book's "almost obsessive and interpretative inflation of minutiae" as "both hard to reject, yet difficult to swallow in its entirety." TimesLiterary Supplement reviewer J.A. Burrow also was reluctant to accept Jones's thesis, but the reviewer nevertheless concluded, "I welcome [Jones's] thorough and systematic questioning of conventional views."
As with Chaucer's Knight, Jones's books for children have received critical commendations for their fresh and imaginative handling of traditional subjects. He wrote 1981's Fairy Tales for his daughter to replace the many traditional fables that "deal with violence in a way I don't approve of," as he told Andrea Chambers in People. This inspired him to create a series of satirical yet lighthearted tales. Writing in Spectator, Brian Patten predicted that Jones's Fairy Tales "could conceivably become a ‘modern classic.’" In contrast to European fairy tales, which Patten described as humorless, "dark and weird," the critic found Jones's stories "a joy." Jones's themes are "often as dark," Patten elaborated, "but his lunatic sense of humour makes them unique." Similarly, Carol Van Strum observed in the New York Times Book Review that Jones "springs from the tradition of Andersen and the brothers Grimm like a slightly inebriated chameleon, adding new color and his own wacky sense of humor to the classic style and form of the fairy tale. As a storyteller, Mr. Jones is a wizard."
Giving equal time to his son, Jones later created The Saga of Erik the Viking, which follows the hero on a search for "the land where the sun goes at night." Times Literary Supplement writer Andrew Wawn called the book "an intriguing sequence of tales, … full of wit and invention." The reviewer also praised Jones's discreet handling of the book's central themes: "fear of the randomly destructive power of weaponry; sympathy for doing, engaging, creating, seeking; disapproval of ennui and purposeless hedonism." In her New York Times Book Review critique of Erik, Van Strum hailed Jones for creating "the legend the Vikings forgot to leave us." Describing Erik's odyssey as "startlingly fresh," Van Strum noted that the Viking's adventures "carry echoes of timeless wisdom to the children of a nuclear age."
Similarly, Washington Post Book World contributor Elizabeth Ward found Nicobobinus "a fantasy tale of a high order," and called Jones "a leading English children's author." "Aimed at the six to 11 market," a Variety critic observed, Jones's children's books are "really too good for such youngsters who should be satisfied with Mother Goose." National Review contributor Kevin Lynch likewise praised these works as "spellbinding," and suggested that "the English-reading world owes an incalculable debt to the daughter of Terry Jones" for inspiring her father to write. And Jones does intend to continue his work in this field; as he once told CA, "I love writing the children's books; it's the thing that gives me the most pleasure."
Jones borrowed the scenario from a game invented by Douglas Adams, best known for his spoof The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, as the inspiration for the novel Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic: A Novel. Jones (who also contributed the voice of one of the characters in the original video game) sets the stage in the novel as follows: When Leovinus's pet project, the Starship Titanic, reveals itself to be the vehicle whereby two corrupt politicians can run an insurance scam, the outraged architect pilots the ship on its maiden voyage, where it promptly experiences SMEF (Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure) and winds up on Earth. In the game version of the story, the doomed starship has crash landed in the home of each player, who must figure out how to pilot it back to its home. In Jones's book, the Starship Titanic crashes into the home of Dan and Lucy, and its robots invite the humans aboard, where they and a journalist stowaway must contend with the argumentative robots, a talking Bomb that dares them to disarm it, and a number of lustful aliens all the while decoding the video-gamelike piloting controls. "A plot? Well, yes, but nothing obtrusive. In all, what you get is a hugely enjoyable, loony lark through outer space at its most unseemly," remarked Dennis Winters in Booklist. Although a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews concluded that "there are some amusing moments—but otherwise it's pretty thin and familiar fare," a Publishers Weekly critic found more to praise than complain about in Jones's novel. The critic instructed readers to pay more attention to individual scenes than to Jones's mixed-up narration (which doubles back and corrects itself "ridiculously"): "It is the scenes that count, like TV sitcom scenes, full of one-liners, many very funny, but with a modicum of clunkers." Despite the book's failings, it "succeeds in its main purpose, however: it will make readers laugh," the reviewer concluded.
A Fish of the World is a children's book containing two fairy tales that at first appear to be traditional in nature, but are slowly revealed to be modern-day fables in disguise. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "an unmistakable glee beneath the deadpan tones of the narrative warns that all is not as it seems." The Beast with a Thousand Teeth is a similar volume, also gathering two short fairy tales into one book.
Jones has also written a young adult fantasy novel set during the fourteenth century in England. In The Knight and the Squire, a young boy named Tom runs away from the drudgery of his life and winds up fulfilling his dream of glory by fighting in defense of his king and country. The sequel, The Lady and the Squire, finds Tom living a far duller life, as he has been set to work translating the letters stolen from the Pope. However, his quiet life does not last long. He soon finds himself kidnapped and imprisoned behind enemy lines, where he must figure out a way to escape. Lisa Prolman, in a review for the School Library Journal, remarked that "Jones has used his formidable and extensive comedic talents to write a hilarious, fast-paced adventure story full of historical detail."
In Who Murdered Chaucer? A Medieval Mystery, Jones and a number of cowriters, all of whom are English literature professors, set out six hundred years after the fact to solve the mystery of how Geoffrey Chaucer died. They approach the subject with a combination of humor and serious intent, analyzing what little information is available on Chaucer's life and his times at court in an attempt to determine if he might have met with foul play, and if so, who might have had motive to do away with him. Among other theories is the idea that, as Chaucer was a favorite at court when Richard II held the throne, his successor, Henry IV, who took the crown by force, might have been less kindly inclined toward Chaucer. Troy Patterson, in a review for Entertainment Weekly, declared of the book that "the authors evoke a number of nuanced medieval intrigues with lively lucidity." Erica Swenson Danowitz, in a review for the Library Journal, was not completely convinced that Chaucer was indeed murdered based on the evidence presented in the book, but admitted that "this work succeeds in planting a seed of doubt about the circumstances surrounding Chaucer's demise." Barry Windeatt, in a review for Medium Aevum, found the work ultimately tedious, commenting that "like many a joke in the academy—it is disappointingly unsophisticated and goes on far too long."
The Pythons: Autobiography by the Pythons, cowritten by the surviving members of the Monty Pythons, including John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin, in addition to Jones, as well as film critic Bob McCabe, is an unprecedented collection of memorabilia, photographs, diary entries, news clippings, and interviews gathered from all stages of the group's career. They are put together in such a way as to recount the story of the Pythons' rise to fame, and the book goes on to cover the death of Graham Chapman and to note what projects each surviving cast member is currently working on. In a review for the Library Journal, Barry X. Miller got into the full spirit of the volume, remarking: "One of this season's best offerings; a pox on every library that doesn't acquire it!"
Terry Jones's Medieval Lives, which he cowrote with Alan Ereira, is meant as a clear, comprehensible history of medieval times that offers readers an idea of what everyday life was like during the period. It is also meant to correct stereotypes that have been spread by film, television, and books. Eight separate characters are featured in the volume, each from a different walk of life, including a peasant and a knight, with Jones and Ereira presenting them with historical accuracy. They also use the individual characters to present the context of the period, explaining various subjects of importance, such as the plague and the Norman Conquest. Larry W. Usilton, in a review for History: Review of New Books, admitted that the volume is unlikely to stand up to scholarly perusal or analysis, but concluded that "the book does have a number of features that will commend it to a less censorious audience."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 21, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1982.
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 18, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Hewison, Robert, Footlights!, Methuen (London, England), 1983.
Hewison, Robert, Monty Python: The Case Against, Methuen (London, England), 1981.
Johnson, Kim Howard, The First 200 Years of Monty Python, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1989.
Jones, Terry, A Stroud Valley Childhood, A. Sutton (Wolfeboro Falls, NH), 1992.
Perry, George, Life of Python, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1983.
Thompson, John O., editor, Monty Python: Complete and Utter Theory of the Grotesque, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1982.
Wilmut, Roger, From Fringe to Flying Circus, Methuen (London, England), 1980.
Booklist, September 15, 1997, Dennis Winters, review of Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic: A Novel, p. 180.
Books and Bookmen, April, 1980, John Kiteley, review of Chaucer's Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary.
Chicago Tribune, April 1, 1983, Gene Siskel, review of film Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
Daily News (New York, NY), September 25, 1979, Bruce Smith, review of Monty Python's Life of Brian.
Economist, January 26, 1980, review of Chaucer's Knight.
Face, March, 1985, John Hind and Stephen Mosco, review of Monty Python's Life of Brian.
History: Review of New Books, spring, 2005, Larry W. Usilton, review of Terry Jones's Medieval Lives.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1997, review of Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic.
Library Journal, February 15, 1995, Bennett D. Hill, review of Crusades, p. 168; December, 2003, Barry X. Miller, review of The Pythons: Autobiography by the Pythons, p. 120; February 1, 2005, Erica Swenson Danowitz, review of Who Murdered Chaucer? A Medieval Mystery, p. 79.
Los Angeles Times, March 31, 1983, Sheila Benson, review of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
Medium Aevum, March 22, 2007, Barry Windeatt, review of Who Murdered Chaucer?, p. 130.
National Review, December 23, 1983, Kevin Lynch, review of The Saga of Erik the Viking.
New Yorker, May 12, 1975, review of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
New York Times, October 28, 1989, Vincent Canby, review of film Eric the Viking.
New York Times Book Review, January 16, 1983, Carol Van Strum, review of Fairy Tales; October 30, 1983, Carol Van Strum, review of The Saga of Erik the Viking.
People, August 2, 1982, Andrea Chambers, review of Fairy Tales; November 17, 1997, Tom Gliatto, review of movie The Wind in the Willows, p. 25; December 21, 1997, Gerald Jonas, review of Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic, p. 21.
Publishers Weekly, May 23, 1994, review of A Fish of the World, p. 88; September 22, 1997, review of Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic, p. 73.
Punch, November 29, 1978, Barry Took, review of Monty Python's Life of Brian.
Rolling Stone, November 13, 1980, Steve Pond, interview with Terry Jones.
School Library Journal, May, 1998, Robin Deffendall, review of Douglas Adams' Starship Titanic, p. 175; March, 2001, Lisa Prolman, review of The Lady and the Squire, p. 250.
Spectator, January 19, 1980, Peter Ackroyd, review of Chaucer's Knight.
Time, May 26, 1975, Richard Schickel, review of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Times Literary Supplement, February 15, 1980, J.A. Burrow, review of Chaucer's Knight; November 25, 1983, Andrew Wawn, review of The Saga of Erik the Viking.
Variety, September 6-12, 1989, review of Erik the Viking; September 18, 2000, Tim Robey, "Python Jones Has Messiah Complex," p. 18.
Washington Post Book World, January 11, 1987, Elizabeth Ward, review of Nicobobinus.