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JonJon spent most of his childhood reading books under his grandmother's mango tree. Born in Miami, Florida in 1971, he later graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in English Literature, and went on to earn his M.A. and Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California at Santa Cruz. In addition to pursuing his academic work, he wrote fiction in both college and graduate school.

For more than two decades, Jon has been affiliated with The Dickens Project, a multi-campus research consortium of the University of California, and in 2016 became the Project’s Director of Public Outreach. As Director, he guest teaches for the University of Southern California's Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI), a college pipeline program for students from Title 1 schools in South Central Los Angeles.

Jon has written and lectured extensively on 19th-century literature for several outlets, including the Guardian Online, San Francisco Chronicle, Oxford University Press, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His edition of Dickens's Great Expectations, geared toward a new generation of readers for this novel, was published under the Signature imprint of Barnes & Noble in 2012.

Jon's long-standing interest in American History goes all the way back to the first paper he ever delivered as a graduate student on the American Civil War diarist Mary Chesnut. His first published novel, The Spirit Photographer (2018), is a story that evolved from his work on 19th-century America.

He lives in the Hudson Valley.