The following biography was originally published in The British and American Drama of Today. Barrett H. Clark. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915. pp. 29-30.
HENRY ARTHUR JONES was born at Grandborough, Bucks, in 1851. His early life was spent, and his primary education received in his native district. He went into business at Bradford and for some years was a commercial traveler. IN 1878, at Exeter, he produced his first play, Only 'Round the Corner. During the next few years he wrote a number of unimportant little plays, of which A Clerical Error (1879) was produced in London. In 1882, he wrote, in collaboration with Henry Herman, his first great success, the famous melodrama, The Silver King. Saints and Sinners (1884) called forth the unstinted praise of Matthew Arnold. From that day [forward], Jones, through his essays, lectures, and many plays, carried on a work which [was] of incalculable benefit for the English stage.
To Henry Arthur Jones, more than to any other single force, [was] due that Renaissance and "uplift" -- let the term be accepted in its best sense -- of the English drama [of his day]. Jones carried on the tradition of Congreve and Sheridan in high comedy. His best work, with the exception of Michael and His Lost Angel, consists of comedies of manners. The Liars, The Case of Rebellious Susan, and Dolly Reforming Herself, satires on contemporary society, are among the finest character plays of the day. Jones's work is characterized by close observation of the foibles of the upper classes and the aristocracy of England; a keen sense of humor -- as opposed to the cleverness and wit of Wilde and Pinero -- which brings him much closer to the English Restoration dramatists than any other of his day; and a keen sense of dramatic construction. Jones [wrote] many comedies, but his melodramas -- especially The Silver King and The Middleman -- and his tragic play, Michael and His Lost Angel -- must be taken into account in any estimate of the dramatist's total output.
The following biography was originally published in A Short History of the Drama. Martha Fletcher
Bellinger. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 1927. pp. 308-9.
HENRY ARTHUR JONES offered his first play, A Clerical Error, in 1879. Like Pinero, Mr. Jones learned his technique from the French. In 1884 he adapted Ibsen's
Doll's House for the English public under the title Breaking
a Butterfly. It would be a bold person today who would offer
any "adaptation" whatever of Ibsen, and with such a
title! At the time, however, adaptations were in order, and Ibsen
was then only another European playwright, not a theatrical prophet.
Mr. Jones continued his work with domestic comedy and social
pieces, including The Masqueraders and The Bauble Shop.
In 1896 he wrote Michael and His Angel, generally considered
his strongest drama. It is a study of small-town people, concerned
with the expiation of guilt. It is both sentimental and romantic,
with the solemn attitude towards sexual irregularity which generally
characterized the Victorian writer. Mr. Jones, however, has shown
a kind of evangelistic spirit in regard to the stage: a perception
of its possible nobility and truth, and a desire to contribute
to its ethical and moral value.