Born Ford Hermann Hueffer, he was Ford Madox Hueffer before he finally settled on the name Ford Madox Ford in honor of his grandfather, the Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown, of whom he wrote a biography.
One of his most famous works is The Good Soldier[?] (1915), a short novel which is set just before World War I and which chronicles the tragedies of the lives of two "perfect couples" using intricate flashbacks (a literary technique pioneered by Ford). In 2001, the book would be named as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century by the editorial board of the American Modern Library.
Ford also wrote the tetralogy[?] (four related novels), Parade's End (1920s), set in England and on the Western Front in World War I, where he served as an officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers --a life vividly depicted in the novels. In 2001, this book also would be named as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century by the editorial board of the American Modern Library.
Both The Good Soldier and Parade's End depict the confusion and despair attendant on a long undisturbed English aristocracy upon the arrival of the 20th century. Ford wrote dozens of novels as well as essays[?], poetry, memoir, and literary criticism, and collaborated with Joseph Conrad on two novels, The Inheritors (1901) and Romance (1903).
His novel Ladies Whose Bright Eyes (1911) is an ironic tale of involuntary time travel whose protagonist discovers that he does not know how to make a gun, or where there are tin deposits, or in fact anything that would make him useful in the medieval castle community into which he has fallen. It is the reverse of Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, but the details of daily life are rendered more feelingly. Cathedrals, so stately and calm to us, turn out to have been crowded, garish, noisy, and commercial. And, unlike Twain's Yankee, Ford's hero finds himself in the arms of a lady.
In 1908, he founded The English Review, in which he published Thomas Hardy, H.G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, John Galsworthy, and William Butler Yeats and gave debuts to Wyndham Lewis, D.H. Lawrence, and Norman Douglas[?]. In the 1920s, he founded The Transatlantic Review, a journal with great influence on modern literature. Staying with the artistic community in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris, France, he made friends with James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein , Ezra Pound, and Jean Rhys, all of whom he would publish. In a later sojourn in the United States, he was involved with Allen Tate[?], Carolyn Gordon[?], Katherine Anne Porter[?], and Robert Lowell[?], who was then a student. Despite his deep Victorian roots, Ford was always a champion of new literature and literary experimentation.