BBC2's new blockbuster series Parade's End, adapted from Ford Madox Ford’s quartet of novels, begins tonight at 9pm starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Rupert Everett and Miranda Richardson. Here’s a snapshot of the author and his works.
What’s the story about?
Parade’s End follows the story of Tory gentleman Christopher Tietjens, who falls in love with suffragette Valentine, but feels bound in ties of loyalty to his attractive yet amoral wife Sylvia. The Great War will seismically shift his whole life and beliefs.
What’s Ford's family background?
Ford was born in 1873. His father, Francis Hueffer, was a musicologist and music critic for the Times, and his maternal grandfather was the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Ford Madox Brown. He also had a famous uncle, Pre-Raphaelite painter of Proserpine and other masterpieces Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His aunt was Christina Rossetti, writer of poems such as Goblin Market.
What other books has he written?
Ford published over 80 books in a wide scope of genres during his lifetime. His first published book was the children’s fairytale The Brown Owl (1891). He wrote history titles including The Fifth Queen (1906-8), the story of Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s pretty and intelligent, but ill-fated fifth wife, who makes an enemy out of Thomas Cromwell.
The Good Soldier (1915) is another of Ford’s greatest pieces. In this book, Edward Ashburnham appears to have the perfect marriage with his wife Leonora, but underneath the façade there is a life of misery and dishonesty.
Who are his contemporaries?
Ford worked on many projects with Joseph Conrad whom he met in 1898. This included novels The Inheritors and Romance.
The founder of journals The English Review and The Transatlantic Review, Ford championed the careers of many contemporary writers such as Henry James, H.G. Wells, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence and Ernest Hemingway.
Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford is published by BBC Books. Parade's End, The Good Soldier, The Rash Act, Ladies Whose Bright Eyes, Selected Poems: War Prose, Return to Yesterday and other Ford titles are published by Carcanet.