Paul Anthony Jones is an author and writer based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He has written nine books: The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetteer (2012); word origins guide Haggard Hawks & Paltry Poltroons (2013); its sequel Jedburgh Justice & Kentish Fire (2014); language trivia book Word Drops (2015/2016 US); The Accidental Dictionary (2016/2017 US); linguistic yearbook The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities (2017/2018 US); an etymological guide to place names in the dictionary, Around the World in 80 Words (2018/2020 US); the critically acclaimed Cabinet of Calm (2020); and the forthcoming Why Is This A Question? (Oct 2022).

 

Alongside his books, Paul has contributed articles to numerous publications, both on and offline, including The Independent, The Guardian, The ObserverThe Telegraph, The Huffington Post, Byline TimesThe Big Issue, BuzzFeed, Quartz, Considerable.com and Mental Floss. He also runs the popular language-based Twitter account @HaggardHawks—which now boasts over 90,000 followers—and in 2018 founded the occasional trivia podcast Yes or BS. He appears regularly in the press and local radio—including a weekly slot on the BBC Newcastle mid-morning show—and at book and literary festivals.

For professional and media inquiries, head to the Contact page above. 

Born in South Shields in 1983, Paul studied English language at the University of Newcastle, 2002–05, before going on to complete a Masters degree in language and linguistics—specializing in the etymology of place names, historical linguistics, and psycholinguistics—in 2009. His research into the origins of local place names, both as an undergraduate and postgraduate, inspired his first book The British Isles: A Trivia Gazetteer (2012), which brought together the histories and claims to fame of more than 1,000 different towns and cities across Britain and Ireland. 

 

Paul’s longtime personal interest in etymology inspired his second book, Haggard Hawks & Paltry Poltroons (2013). Named as one of The Guardian’s best language books of the year, Haggard Hawks was critically well-received and was even profiled on Channel 4’s flagship words and numbers programme Countdown. Its sequel, Jedburgh Justice & Kentish Fire, followed in 2014. 

 

Paul set up the popular @HaggardHawks Twitter account in December 2013. Both it and its tie-in blog and website, haggardhawks.com, have since established Haggard Hawks as a mainstay of the online linguistic community. It’s been named as one of the best language-based accounts on Twitter, has been profiled on The Huffington Post—and even found its way onto an episode of the BBC’s flagship prime time satirical quiz show, Have I Got News For You (albeit in the context of putting a live eel up a horse’s anus). 

 

The @HaggardHawks account, which welcomed its 90,000th Twitter follower in spring 2022, spawned its own language fact book, Word Drops (published in the UK by Elliott & Thompson, 2015, and in the US by New Mexico Press, 2016). Word Drops was featured on Radio 4’s The World At One (with Paul contributing daily etymologies of political terms in the run-up to the 2015 general election), and was named Book of the Week by The Daily Telegraph’s Bookshop Corner in May 2015. In November 2015, it was shortlisted for a BBD & PA design award, alongside the likes of the HarperCollins Atlas of the World and the 5th Edition of the Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus.

Paul’s fifth book, The Accidental Dictionary, was published in October 2016. Telling the extraordinary etymological stories behind 100 familiar words, the book was featured in The GuardianThe Daily Mirror and The Telegraph. A yearbook of forgotten words, The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities, was published in October 2017, alongside a US edition of The Accidental Dictionary from Pegasus Books. The sixth book in the Haggard Hawks collection, Around the World in 80 Words, followed in 2018, with Paul appearing at both the Hexham Book Festival and Glasgow Aye Write! Book Festival to promote its release; a US edition followed in autumn 2020.

 

The Cabinet of Calm—a collection of beautiful, calmative, and meaningful wordswas released in the UK in May 2020 and named Book of the Week by The Bookseller magazine.

Alongside curating the @HaggardHawks Twitter feed and website, Paul appears weekly on BBC Radio Newcastle. In 2016, he wrote and presented a series of 50 language-based videos for YouTube. And in 2018, he launched Yes or BS—an occasional series of trivia-based podcasts, featuring bizarre facts and stories that are quite literally too strange to be true. 

Future projects include an exhaustive dictionary of all the words he has collected through his work with Haggard Hawks; an illustrated project in collaboration with graphic designer Bread & Ink; a biographical guide to English eponyms; a language quiz and puzzle book; and a long-awaited yearbook of 366 obscure historical biographies. Paul is also working on his first fiction. 

 

Besides writing, Paul is also a classically trained pianist with a particular interest in the works of JS Bach. He lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. 

He is represented by Andrew Lownie, of the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency, and published by Elliott & Thompson Books

 

(May 2022)

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