The most popular question I have been asked by my readers, from those who have attended a lecture, and the first question the Detroit Free Press asked at an interview was ‘How useful is the internet as a research tool?
I must share what a very dear friend Dr. Charlene Berry, a research librarian with Madonna University, once told me that we live in the “Mis-information age.” Furthermore, in a class I was attending in college, a student handed in a report and the professor asked her if the sources she cited from Wikipedia were accurate. The student replied “Yes, because it said they were.”
The digitization of books is as important today as was the printing press to 1500’s Europeans. It allows more people access to information, which in my opinion is a great thing. But, with that said, the picture to the right is a representation of the material I accumulated for one 210 page biography most of which is within 2 large binders. Remember when they said computers will virtually eliminate paper?
The second question I am asked is “Any advice to aspiring authors?” Yes, ask questions, then ask more questions; then question the answers you obtain.
Published information on Lady Jane is scant and contradictory; here, primary sources including Jane's own letters illustrate the drama of a high-born, high-minded and intelligent young lady sacrificed on the pyre of ambition by her kin. The teenaged Lady Jane faced her shocking fate with shocking fortitude; her own performance is inspirational, while some of those around her showed themselves to be the very embodiment of treachery and betrayal. The result is a complete and accurate study of Lady Jane Grey and her short reign, through primary and secondary sources, that will stimulate new questions in the mind of readers and researchers alike.
“Taylor succeeds in furnishing insights into the remarkable mind of this young, 16th-century Protestant noblewoman” & “serious students of English history will relish the new material offered here”
Publishers Weekly, Jan 2005.
Algora Publishing, New York. 2004
Edward Courtenay, the twelfth Earl of Devonshire, walked a fine line that separated treason and loyalty to the crown. Although he spent over half of his life imprisoned in the Tower of London, he was considered a possible marriage partner for Mary Tudor. He was released from prison but ended his days adrift on the continent. Here, James Taylor has pieced together the story of his dramatic life through remnants of correspondence and documents from the era. This volume was prepared in consultation with current Earl of Devon.
Algora Publishing, New York. 2006
Thomas Wyatt the Younger, born into a Catholic family with a history of loyal service to the Crown, was a supporter of Queen Mary — until she decided to marry Philip II of Spain. Wyatt had seen the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition and was dead set against tying England to this "foreigner." What happened next helped Mary earn the moniker "Bloody Mary." James D. Taylor Jr. has brought together all known surviving documents from the life of Thomas Wyatt the Younger and presents them in their original form, allowing the reader to piece together a pointillistic picture of the historical narrative, the thinking of a daring man, and the drama leading up to and during Wyatt's rebellion against the Queen.
Algora Publishing, New York. 2013
Henry Grey gave up a comfortable, quiet and leisurely life to become one of the most powerful and influential figures in England. The father of Lady Jane Grey, he was descended from a distinguished and noble heritage back as far as 1100 CE that produced two queens. In the end, Henry Grey brought destruction upon his daughter and himself, as they were sent to the executioner within a week of each other.
A genealogy of the Grey family, descriptive information on Henry Grey's wife Frances Brandon — an ambitious granddaughter of King Henry VII, a list of Knights made by King Edward VI, and other historical documents accompany the text. The author also presents some dramatic narratives from the 1700s and 1800s which add flavor to the story and corrects several incorrect facts often reprinted.
Algora Publishing, New York. 2015
Betty Boop is an iconic figure that has endured for decades. In addition to cartoons and short movies, she is seen on almost everything from automotive and motorcycle merchandise to household items and clothing. Just about anything you can think of, her sexy little figure can be seen on it. But few people know the voice that helped make her into the icon she is.
Mae Questel was an American actress and vocal artist who put the “boop” in the “boop boop a doop.” It was because of Mae Questel that Betty Boop has a characteristic voice heard and remembered by millions. In this book, historian James D. Taylor provides a look into the life of a wonderful woman and the contributions she made to American pop culture. She was dedicated to her work and remained active until the last ten years of her long life.
Individuals such as Woody Allen, Lou Hirsch, Doris Roberts and Bob Newhart shared their accounts of Mae Questel with the author, and he listened to hundreds of hours of old audio recordings and viewed many hours of film to accumulate material for this biography. With every hour, he says, his respect grew for this admirable and talented woman who entertained millions of people.
Algora Publishing, New York. 2016
Betty Boop has been a beloved character since the 1930s. The quintessential “flapper,” her character was based on a handful of popular performers, and fans are still arguing who was the principal model.
This book is the only comprehensive collection of documented facts about Helen Kane, the face of Betty Boop. Historian James D. Taylor has painstakingly accumulated all the facts that can be found about her life and her performing career - and these details make for an interesting story in themselves.
Those who do know of Helen Kane are aware of the controversy that broke out and became a major court case. Mr. Taylor gained access to the official transcript of the trial that was a pivotal event in her life.
Too many short, inaccurate biographies have been published that incorrectly quote from that trial. Helen Kane was dedicated to her work and remained active until the last ten years of her life.
While Mae Questel was the vocal artist whose distinctive voice helped make Betty Boop a favorite character, it’s the image of Betty Boop that is most recognizable. She would not look the way she does if it had not been for the performances of Helen Kane.
Algora Publishing, New York. 2017
This will be the first publication to include all known and recorded state trials from the reign of King Henry VII to Elizabeth I.
Expected publication release date: 2019 by Algora Publishing, New York.
Mr. Taylor has uncovered new evidence about the origin of the poetry form the sonnet in 13th century Italy. He will present this information in volume one of a series showcasing those who popularized the sonnet form until the 17th century.
A group of researchers discover a 20,000 year old extremophile microbe that is accidentally released in a city outside of San Francisco. Through the skill of first responders, fire fighters, law enforcement and other agencies, a massive pandemic was prevented saving perhaps thousands of lives.
A retired college professor and his son sit down to play a game of chess. The sequence of moves they made are a key that opened a gateway allowing an ancient Egyptian war goddess Menhit, from the reign of Ramses XI, into their time to form a new dynasty, this time on the campus of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
During the time of the pharaohs, two meteorites fell (gifts from the gods) into the land of Egypt. Because one of them fell during the day, they called it a sun stone and because the other fell during the night, they called it a moon stone. The origin of the meteors is not known, but each stone contains powers unknown to modern science. The Egyptians broke the sun stone into four pieces and sent them into the cardinal four directions. The story follows a team of researchers who attempt to track down the location of three sun stones (one was seized by a high priest after the gateway was opened) which is the only way to close the gateway by completing the sequence of moves of the chess game. Military and civilian law enforcement soon realize that their weapons are ineffectual against Menhit and her large army as she slowly expands her new dynasty sometimes leaving a trail of death and devastation behind.
The names of the ancient Egyptians, places and time periods are from ancient history, but the story will certainly change the way we think of the game called chess.
Copyright 2018 James D. Taylor Jr.