FORD, Ford Madox (1873-1939)
Plaque erected in 1973 by Greater London Council at 80 Campden Hill Road, Holland Park, London, W8 7AA, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Journalism and Publishing, Literature
FORD MADOX FORD 1873-1939 Novelist and Critic lived here
The novelist and critic Ford Madox Ford is best remembered for his novel The Good Soldier and the collection of novels known as Parade’s End. He caused a scandal in 1913 by moving in with his lover Violet Hunt at 80 Campden Hill Road, where his stay is now commemorated with a blue plaque.
LIFE AND WORKS
Born Ford Hermann Hueffer to a German father and English mother, his first important publications were biographies of two pre-Raphaelite painters: his grandfather Ford Madox Brown (published 1896) and DG Rossetti (1902). Both Ford Hermann and his brother Oliver adopted the name 'Madox' in honour of their grandfather and Ford Hermann later changed his surname to Ford in 1919.
In the first decade of the 20th century, Ford came to prominence with a series of books co-authored with Joseph Conrad and with his founding of the English Review in 1908. His reputation as a novelist was established with The Good Soldier (1915), and consolidated by four outstanding novels, known collectively as Parade’s End (1924–8), which drew on Ford’s wartime experiences.
Number 80 Campden Hill Road is an ‘unpretentious semi-detached villa’ formerly known as South Lodge – after the astronomer Sir James South, who had an observatory nearby. Ford had been based in Kensington for some time when he met South Lodge’s long-time resident, the author Violet Hunt (1862–1942).
Ford had married his school girlfriend in 1894, but when she refused his request for a divorce he moved – amid scandal – to South Lodge in about 1913 and lived as Violet’s ‘paying guest’. By August 1915 their affair was more or less over and Ford left South Lodge to join the Army, but not before penning The Good Soldier.
Although his time at South Lodge was comparatively short, Ford’s presence was strongly felt. He and Violet – as ‘Mr and Mrs Ford Hueffer’ – held a series of salons that attracted friends who included Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis and DH Lawrence. Ford’s pictures, books and furniture remained at South Lodge until after Violet’s death, causing a friend to comment that ‘in a queer, unaccountable way, he still dominated the house’.