In 1992, an eclectic band of renowned scholars and individuals from James Jones’s hometown (Robinson, Illinois) started what is now called The James Jones Literary Society. The Society aims to further appreciation for Jones’s writings and his other accomplishments that are significant to the study and appreciation of 20th Century literature. The Society seeks to keep his works in print, to encourage Jones scholarship, and to honor him in several ways:
- By conferring a $10,000 annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship to an unpublished writer, as well as two $1,000 runner-up prizes. The contest draws more than 600 submissions annually.
- By sponsoring the annual “The Valentine” essay contest. The prize is awarded for essays written by senior English students from schools including Marshall, Palestine and Robinson High Schools in Illinois. The essays are based on Jones’s short story “The Valentine,” which was first published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1963 and was later included The Ice-Cream Headache and Other Stories, a book-length collection. The story features a young boy who presents a box of Valentine candy to a favorite girl in his class, and the humiliation and rejection he suffers as a result. The first-place winner from each participating school receives an award of $75; second-place winners receive $50 and third $25 (provided that 10 students or more submit essays). If submissions are less than 10, than only a first place award of $50 is given. The contest was established by Helen Howe, who organized the annual event for many years. A retired English teacher, Howe was a long-time friend of Jones and one of the founders of the JJLS.
- By supporting The James Jones Fund for the Study of the Experience of War in History, Literature, Theatre, Film and Music to Eastern Illinois State University students majoring or minoring in one of the above. In conjunction with the Eastern Illinois University’s Departments of History and English, fund sponsors an annual James Jones Symposium at EIU which includes speakers and the presentation of student papers.