Nov 25, 2010

Howard Marks, Jesse James and Billy the Kid

Howard Marks discovers his roots and embraces Wales and Welsh culture in new book

two dragons by howard marks front cover detailImmortalised for his criminal activities, Howard Marks’ public life story is a heady mix of fact and fiction that begins and ends with his career as “one of the most sophisticated drug barons of all times.”

In his new book Two Dragons, Howard Marks pulls together, for the first time, the stories from his life that show the private quest he embarked upon following a chance conversation with a black American in prison for murder. It's an account of a personal journey that took him back to his Welsh roots and around the globe to discover his family history, including links with none other than the equally notorious outlaw, Billy the Kid, as well as an account of the making of the film Mr Nice and the role of the film in the wider Two Dragons story.

This warm, humorous and personal account uncovers a family history that is stranger than fiction. He learns of a distant relative, William Owen, a famous Welsh smuggler whose “chronicle of scams, acquittals, and debauchery would put any modern-day smuggler or playboy to shame.” He also discovers that his father’s family were part of Jesse James’s gang and that his great- great grandfather was half-brother of Billy the Kid.

Howard Marks speaks of two Wales' in his experience, one he couldn't wait to get as far away from as possible and the other he is now warmly embracing once again. Throughout his journey into his past, and from one Wales into the other, Howard Marks makes new and firm friends with some of Wales’ biggest names in the acting and music industry including Rhys Ifans, Super Furry Animals and the Stereophonics. His search leads him to a past and present inextricably linked to his sense of identity and nationality and ultimately pride in being Welsh. In Two Dragons, we once again get to enjoy some of the well known stories associated with Howard over the years, as well as plenty of brand new ones, and all in a new, fascinating context.

Another chance conversation, this time in a pub in Laugharne, led to Howard collaborating with author Alun Gibbard in putting the story of his quest together. Two Dragons also includes new photographs especially commissioned for the book by photographer Emyr Young. The images include a literary festival in Caernarfon, a Goldie Looking Chain golf event, the Welsh Premiere of the film Mr Nice, and portraits taken of Howard in his home village of Kenfig Hill. It also includes photographs that Howard took when he visited the set of Mr Nice during filming, as well as his visits to South America and the Caribbean.

Two Dragons will be launched at the Grant Theatre, Swansea during An Evening with Mr Nice – 7.30, Sunday 28th November. To contact Howard Marks call Alun Gibbard on 07747 694 643 or email

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