Sunday 4 March 2018


A few days ago I put the finishing touches to the 'Summing Up', my conclusion to 'Jago' - the biography of Jago Stone (1928-88), the burglar-turned-artist. The work is now complete - although subject of course to revision, amendments and additions. At present there are 66,537 words and the illustrated book comprises 206 pages. I have already started the journey to find a literary agent who can secure publication.



By Rob Donovan

Above is the working title page for the biography. The image of Jago at work is used with the permission of Michael Mort, originally from Michigan and now resident in Abilene, Texas having retired from the United States Air Force . Michael's contribution to the biography is evident in the following extract from Chapter 7, 'The American Connection' and the accompanying photos that he

has gifted me: 

'In late May 2017, Michael Mort from Abilene, Texas made Facebook contact with me. He explained:
“A few years ago I had made a note on my phone about Jago Stone. This morning I came across the note and decided to search the internet for any information about Jago, and was led to this page …

Steve McIntosh, my web-designer, had set up a ‘Jago’ Facebook page a month or so earlier.

“I was in the U.S. Air Force stationed at Upper Heyford from 1975-78. In 1977 Jago Stone painted my English home, and the village church. I have the water-color paintings hanging in my home. I also have photos I took of Jago painting my English home.”

As I said in my reply to Michael:

“Very exciting to get such a post – this is the way that much of my material has been sourced: through online communication in response to google searches by those who knew Jago …’.

Michael and his wife, Jo, who he married in 1999 were then caught up in other matters – re-designing their home and travel – and apologised for the delay. But in October and November 2017, Michael gifted me three images of Jago painting his home in Swalcliffe, near Banbury in Oxfordshire.

He also sent an image of the painting which is titled: ‘2 The Cottage, Bakers Lane, Swalcliffe, Banbury OX15 5EN – Specially Painted for Michael & Kerri Mort, Their English Home.’ It is signed and dated: ‘Jago Stone 1977’.

In addition, Michael sent images with captions to show locations within Swalcliffe where Jago sat when painting the picture – and an image of the second painting: ‘S.S. Peter and Paul – The Parish Church, Swalcliffe, Oxfordshire – Specially Painted for Michael and Kerri Mort, Their Village Church’, also dated 1977.

Kerri and Michael divorced in 1982, but still ‘send a note to each other every now and then’.   
Michael remarked to me during one email exchange:
“I only knew Jago while he painted our pictures … knowing what I’ve learned recently because of your research, I would have liked to have known him better. Jago was fairly quiet while painting.”    

I think, Michael, the Jago you saw at the easel was a man immersed in his own version of communion. When he lifted his artist’s brush and moved it towards the canvas, he was the priest holding the chalice in a sacred rite.   Painting after all had been Jago’s salvation.'

Michael - as you have read above - did send images of locations where Jago sat when he was painting in Swalcliffe, near Banbury in Oxfordshire, some 15 miles and half-an-hour's drive away from the U.S. base at Upper Heyford. I find these fascinating. They really help to bring those painting days alive and here they are:


Michael and his wife, Jo, have become my Facebook friends and I am very grateful for their interest in Jago's story. Michael has proved an invaluable source.  

If anyone who is reading this feels that they would like to read the biography when it is published, do please sign up for the free monthly Mailchimp newsletter that keeps people up-to-date with developments. This is the link to press - here - to access the form to complete. The link also takes you to the rest of the Jago website and all the blogs about Jago that I have produced. The more people who sign, the stronger my bid to publishers.

And whilst I appreciate that not all those who share my regard for Jago and his art will share my perspective on politics, for those who want to find out more there is a link - here - to the order form for my first publication: 'The Road to Corbyn' (2016) for American readers. You can get it direct from me for £14.99 (20.70 dollars). The link for UK readers is - here - and the cost is £9.99.  

Finally, a reminder of the power of Jago's palette-knife painting. Here is one of my favourites - it's untitled and dated 1969. We call it 'Lady on the Stairway'.


Jago has a talent that needs wider recognition. Looking at this image, you can see why he won the Arthur Koestler national prize for prison art in the mid-1960s. 

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