4 minute read

Elizabeth McDavid Jones (1958-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

Born 1958 in SC; Education: East Carolina University, B.A., 1981, M.A. (literature), 1996; attended Appalachian State University.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Pleasant Company Publishing, 8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, WI 53562.


Social worker and author of children's books. Pitt Community College, instructor.

Honors Awards

Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Juvenile Novel, Mystery Writers of America, 2000, for The Night Flyers.



Secrets on Twenty-sixth Street, Pleasant Company Publishing (Middleton, WI), 1999.

The Night Flyers, Pleasant Company Publishing (Middleton, WI), 1999.

Watcher in the Piney Woods, Pleasant Company Publishing (Middleton, WI), 2000.

Mystery on Skull Island, Pleasant Company Publishing (Middleton, WI), 2001.

Ghost Light on Graveyard Shoal, Pleasant Co. Publications (Middleton, WI), 2003.


The Night Flyers was adapted as an audiobook, Recorded Books, 2003.

Taking place during World War I, Elizabeth McDavid Jones's novel focuses on a young teen who suspects a stranger in her North Carolina town of being a German spy. (Cover illustration by Paul Bachem.)


Mystery writer Elizabeth McDavid Jones, a native of the American South, weaves the history and setting of her native region into the books she contributes to the "American Girl History Mystery" series for pre-teen readers. In each of her books Jones introduces an intelligent, optimistic, resilient young woman who is challenged by circumstances unique to her own time. In The Night Flyers, for example, a young girl living during World War I fears that a German spy has infiltrated her town; taking place in the late 1800s, Ghost Light on Graveyard Shoal follows a lighthouse-keeper's daughter as she attempts to discover why so many ships are drawn to the dangerous rocks near her father's lifesaving station.

Jones was born in South Carolina, but moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, as a youngster. A graduate of East Carolina University, she began a career in social work before becoming a mother of four children. After graduating in 1996 with a master's degree in literature, Jones set course on a different career, this time as a university lecturer. She also found time to begin to write for children.

In 1999 Jones's first two books for young readers appeared. The Night Fliers, an award-winning mystery, is set in North Carolina in 1918 and focuses on a twelve-year-old girl named Pam Lowder who, while worried about her father fighting on the front in France, begins to suspect that a stranger in town is really a German spy. While she cares for the loft of night-flying homing pigeons she and her father have trained, Pam worries that German agents may be threatening her hometown; when a man with a German accent offers her a great deal of money for the specially trained birds and several pigeons are subsequently stolen, she must draw on her inner courage to face her fears and solve the mystery. "Local color in the form of daily rural and small town routines, one-room schoolhouse life, and the problems of poor families with their men gone to war make this an informative as well as interesting book," maintained School Library Journal contributor Jane P. Fenn in her review of The Night Flyers.

Also published in 1999, Secrets on Twenty-sixth Street recounts the story of eleven-year-old Susan O'Neal. After a mysterious woman named Bea appears at her mother's boarding house, Susan begins to wonder about

This U.S. Civil War-era novel draws readers into the life of Cassie Willis, whose discovery of a Confederate deserter hiding out near her home puts her and her family in danger. (Cover illustration by Jean-Paul Tibbles.)

the new woman's past. Ultimately, the girl learns that Bea arrived in New York City to help with the fledgling suffrage movement, a fact she must keep secret in order to preserve Bea's safety. When the girl's mother disappears, Susan confronts Bea, who reveals that Mrs. O'Neal is an active suffragette and has been arrested for participating in a protest that ended in a riot. Commenting on Jones' ability to maintain dramatic tension throughout Secrets on Twenty-sixth Street, School Library Journal reviewer Janet Gillen wrote that the novel's major characters are "believable individuals reacting to situations in a consistent manner."

Other books by Jones include Watcher in the Piney Woods, a story about twelve-year-old Cassie, who tries to help her family maintain their Virginia farm during the U.S. Civil War. The book features period photographs and other illustrations created specially for Jones's text, which School Library Journal contributor Starr E. Smith praised as "enjoyable leisure reading." Another book in the "American Girl History Mystery" series, 2001's Mystery on Skull Island is a tale about two friends who stumble onto a pirate's mystery spot on a deserted island. Like Jones's other books in the series, it has been praised for its detailed research and for the author's ability to share her excitement about history with her readers.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Horn Book, spring, review of Secrets on Twenty-sixth Street, p. 73.

Kliatt, November, 2003, Pat Dole, review of The Night Flyers, p. 51.

School Library Journal, April, 2000, Janet Gillen, review of Secrets on Twenty-sixth Street, p. 138; January, 2001, Starr E. Smith, review of Watcher in the Piney Woods, p. 132; July, 2003, Jane P. Fenn, review of The Night Flyers, p. 70.


Childrenslit.com, http://www.childrenslit.com/ (October 21, 2004), "Elizabeth McDavid Jones."

Museletter, http://www.ecu.edu/english/journals/ (spring, 2000), "Elizabeth Jones Wins Edgar."

Writers and Illustrators of North Carolina Web site, http://www.wincbooks.com/ (October 21, 2004), "Liz Jones."*

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Dan Jacobson Biography - Dan Jacobson comments: to Barbara Knutson (1959–2005) Biography - Personal