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Ford Madox Ford, formerly Ford Hermann Hueffer Biography

(1873–1939), formerly Ford Hermann Hueffer, The Times, Memories and Impressions, The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

British novelist and editor, born in Surrey. The son of Dr Francis Hueffer, a music critic on The Times, and grandson of the Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown, Ford's earliest influences were the Pre-Raphaelite artists and writers of his parents' circle including Dante Gabriel Rossetti (about whom he wrote a study in 1902). Ford wrote of this period, ‘[I] came out of the hothouse atmosphere of Pre-Raphaelism where I was being trained for a genius’ (in Memories and Impressions, 1911). His The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (1907) offered further insights into the movement. The Brown Owl (1892), a collection of fairy tales, marked the beginning of a highly productive literary career. His influence on the development of modern literature is incalculable, both as an exponent of Modernist techniques in his own writing, and as an editor whose generous encouragement of other writers and his eye for innovation helped to set the agenda for twentieth-century literature. Ford collaborated with Conrad in three novels (The Inheritors, 1901; Romance, 1903; and The Nature of a Crime, 1924); during his association with Conrad, which began in 1898, Ford developed a fictional method and theory derived to an extent from Impressionism, but also linked to his reading of Flaubert and Maupassant. Ford published over thirty novels of great diversity, including historical romances, farces, comedies of manners, and studies of contemporary and political life. These include the Fifth Queen Trilogy (The Fifth Queen, 1906; Privy Seal, 1907; The Fifth Queen Crowned, 1908) about the rise and fall of Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII. He has also published volumes of verse, autobiographical works (including Return to Yesterday, 1931; and It Was the Nightingale, 1933), and many works of criticism (notably The March of Literature, 1938). As editor of The English Review (190810) he was the first to publish D. H. Lawrence and gave support to emergent Vorticist writers such as Pound and W. Lewis. Ford's stormy marriage to Elsie Martindale, with whom he had eloped in 1894, resulted in a scandalous divorce after Ford became romantically involved with the novelist Violet Hunt in 1908; unhappy marriages and adulterous liaisons were to feature in his major work, The Good Soldier (1915), which is perhaps the most perfect expression of Ford's Impressionistic technique in his exploration of the ‘dark forest’ of the human heart. Ford's experience of active service in the First World War, during which he was wounded and sent home in 1917, provided the inspiration for his collection of poems of 1918 and his other major work, Parade's End (published separately as Some Do Not, 1924; No More Parades, 1925; A Man Could Stand up, 1926; and The Last Post, 1928), also known as the ‘Tietjens Tetralogy’ after its hero, Christopher Tietjens; Ford later wrote that his intention was to show the collapse of the social order in the aftermath of the cataclysm of the Great War. Having moved to Paris in 1922, Ford founded the Transatlantic Review in 1924, which published work by a wide variety of experimental and Modernist writers (see Lost Generation, The). His final years were spent in Europe and America where he influenced several younger writers, including Katherine Anne Porter, William Carlos Williams, and Eudora Welty. See Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life (1996) by Max Saunders.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Samuel Foote Biography to Furioso