The most popular question I have been asked by my readers and 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 above 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? I still spend a great deal of time in university libraries as many editions are too fragile for photocopying.
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.
I must admit that I am slightly overwhelmed by all the questions from all age groups and the wonderful comments I have received-thank you everyone. It is an author's desire to be read and enjoyed.
I would like to share a recently received letter through this website:
Dear Mr. Taylor;
My name is Thomas ------ from ------ Middle School in ------ Massachusetts. Our teacher has given us an assignment about English Tudor history. You seem to have the most books about people from that era. Why are you different from Wikipedia?
Dear Thomas; Great question. I thoroughly research my subjects through original books, documents and other publications from the era and fully cite my sources. This often requires many years of rather tedious research to ensure that each biography is as accurate as it can be. Wikipedia is great for a quick source of information, but if something is important, please do your research. Correct information is a powerful tool. Thank you.
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.
This book has ranked at 87,182 out of Amazon's top 4 million. Thank you to those readers who purchased this book. I hope Mrs. Questel enjoys the renewed and certainly deserved popularity again.
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 book presents the full documentation of all known and recorded capital trials during the Tudor dynasty.
Trials were very different back then. It was very rare for the accused to even have representation, and mainly people had to defend themselves; but one can read several examples of how individuals accused of treason skillfully defended themselves, evading the sentence of death.
Biographies have been published about some of these individuals, including the events that led up to the trials, but all too often the trials themselves have been left out of have been included only by way of a few exerts, so that this volume is the first to included as many are presented here.
The inducement to put together this book is two-fold. These trials were life and death events, an integral part of the individual's biographical story and of history; secondly, some readers of my past publications have requested a book just about the trials of those best known to readers interested in English Tudor history.
The trials included in this edition are accumulated from many sources. Only a very few cases, where actual trial records were not found, have been left out. During the reign of Elizabeth I, record keeping and trial transcripts became more frequent and regular.
Through this book, the refinement of Tudor law can be seen as it evolved from being a matter of the monarch's will to following clearly-established law that governed everyone.
ISBN 978-1-62894-376-4 State Trials.
Algora Publishing. New York. 2018.
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 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.
The Pandora Syndrome is a fact-based science fiction novel that follows a group of researchers from team conception to the discovery of an extremophile life form to the accidental release of the bacteria in a city outside of San Francisco. Through the skill of first responders, fire fighters, law enforcement and other agencies, a pandemic was prevented saving perhaps thousands of lives.
James Taylor is a veteran of the United States Navy and a trained state certified fire fighter with training in first responder and EMS/EMT and draws on this training and the research skills gained from four published English Renaissance biographies to present a fact-based science fiction on “What could happen.” The Pandora Syndrome presents a very real possible situation including the serious results of a deadly bacteria public exposure.
Since the production of the first motorcycles, groups of like-minded enthusiasts formed clubs. These increased in frequency following World War II when veterans sought the camaraderie and brotherhood they had in the military. The 1960s saw the rise of several well-known clubs, fueled in part by the counter-culture, and the term one-percenter—a term used to describe outlaw motorcycle clubs—became forever embedded in the biker terminology.
The mysterious and elite world of outlaw one-percenter clubs has always intrigued the general public as did, and still do, Wild West outlaws like Billy the Kid and Jesse James. Many believe that the Hollister Riot of 1947 was a pivotal point in the public’s perception of the motorcycle culture. A small disturbance in Hollister, California was sensationalized by the media (They wouldn’t do that would they?) as lawless outlaw bikers terrorizing a town. The 1953 cult classic starring Marlon Brando, The Wild One, would cement the public impression of bikers as hell-raisers. Anyone remember what the 1936 cult classic Reefer Madness did to public opinion of a once harmless weed? Unless you have participated in the life, you cannot fully understand how much the media has distorted and fabricated stories, perverting the general public’s opinion of outlaw motorcycle clubs.
During the 1980s, the opinion of the general public began to shift, and more than the “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals” began to enjoy the motorcycle world such as doctors, lawyers, and law enforcement. The opinion of riding motorcycles continues to evolve today. Recently several television series and movies have helped to fuel the desire to be in an outlaw motorcycle club but from the comfort of a couch or a favorite recliner.
If you are looking for a book about gang wars over territory, guns, drugs, and the often ludicrous and comical portrayals found in the media, this book may not be for you. This is different. The foundation of this novel is about the motorcycle club called Saddle Bums and is set in the fictitious town of Spring City, California. The president of Saddle Bums is a well- educated man of Italian/Navaho heritage who had the vision to form a council of five of the major outlaw motorcycle clubs on the West Coast into a single delegation without “patching over” or disbanding their clubs, and eventually, he helps elevate the council into a high-end, legitimate business. He falls in love with a sheriff who gives him the motivation to build a solid foundation for the council to benefit future dynasties. The strength of the council is enhanced with the acquisition of members who are in law enforcement, political lobbyists, and politicians. Some outside law enforcement labeled them as an army as the original council brought nine thousand like-minded individuals together. Law enforcement feared that those numbers would increase, and they would.
The reason behind the creation of this council is similar to when the five main crime families of New York—the Gambino, Lucchese, Genovese, Bonanno and Colombo families united, which strengthened their power into a formidable entity that continues to exist to present day. The five motorcycle clubs slowly overcame the obstacles of traditional territorial boundaries, and even though the transition was rough, through the guidance and leadership motivated by a common goal, they did what had never been accomplished before.
There are many of my own real-life experiences intertwined within this story. Names, of course, have been changed to protect the guilty.