December 17

This Day in History

World War I

Dec 17, 1873:

Ford Madox Ford is born

Ford Madox Ford, a writer, editor, and member of the so-called Lost Generation who served on the Western Front during the Great War, is born Ford Hermann Hueffer on this day in 1873.

Hueffer (he would change his name to Ford Madox Ford in 1919) had already published his first andbest-known work, a short novel called The Good Soldier, by the time war broke out in 1914. He wassoon recruited by Britain's War Propaganda Bureau (WPB) to write pamphlets aimed at shaping publicopinion of the war effort. Perhaps to compensate for his German heritage, he vigorously pursued hispropagandistic duties, denouncing all things Prussian and defending the British governmentagainst all criticism. He left the WPB in 1916 to join the army, and was sent to France as a junior officerin the 38th Infantry Brigade. He was slightly wounded by an exploding shell during the Battle of theSomme, but saw little real trench warfare, as he served in the transport services. His experience onthe battlefield caused him to question the competence of the British authorities, however, when he sawfirst-hand the immense and seemingly unnecessary loss of human life at the Somme and elsewhere.

In the years following the war, Ford moved to Paris. During the 1920s, he founded the literary magazineTransatlantic Review, in which he would go on to publish the groundbreaking work of such acquaintances as James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound and Jean Rhys. He also continued with his own work, including Parade's End, (1924-28) a series of four novels set in Britain and on the Western Front.

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