by Boyd Childress (2000)
[JONES, JUSTIN] “HARRY HAZEL” (1814-1889). Justin Jones, who wrote under the pseudonym Harry Hazel, authored more than forty dime novels about Boston, war, life at sea, and other adventure. His career as a fiction writer covered the 1840s and 1850s, for the most part, although he edited a newspaper as early as 1834 and issued a weekly story paper during and after the Civil War.
Little is known of Jones’ early life. Born in 1814 in Brunswick, Maine, he was obviously a New England resident, as an early record indicates that he was printer of the weekly Hartford Pearl and Literary Gazette from August to October 1834. The following month, the name of the paper was changed to the Boston Pearl and Literary Gazette, a venture that survived until September 1835. In 1844 Jones was printer for a children’s book, Sam Squab, the Boston Boy. That same year, he began to use the name Harry Hazel for a series of short fictional works (all of approximately 100 pages). Jones preceded the widespread popularity of the dime novel with his fast-paced adventure romances, eighteen of which had a naval or nautical theme. His first sea story was The Corsair, or the Foundling of the Sea, an American Romance (1846), followed the next year by The Pirate’s Daughter, or, The Rovers of the Atlantic and Fourpe Tap, or, The Middy of the Macedonian: in Which Is Contained the Concluding Incidents in the Eventful Career of Big Dick, King of the Negroes. Jones continued his adventure writing at a prodigious rate: in 1853 alone, he published six sea tales, including Flying Yankees and Harry Tempest. His books covered life at sea, the American Revolution, pirates, smuggling, privateering, and the War of 1812. His last book was The Doomed Ship (1864), a tale of shipwreck and rescue in the Arctic.
Jones used the name “Harry Hazel” in a story paper he published in Boston as early as 1852. Harry Hazel’s Yankee Blade promised a new story each week, and Jones was still printing the inexpensive paper during the war. Apart from the Harry Hazel publications, Jones left little record of his life, but his contribution as a dime novelist before 1860, when the genre developed its vast popularity, placed him ahead of his time.