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Charles Henri Ford papers, 1906-1989 (bulk 1939-1989)

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Charles Henri Ford papers, 1906-1989, bulk 1939-1989

Biographical/Historical Note

Charles Henri Ford, the American poet, playwright, publisher and painter, was born Feb. 10, 1910, in Hazelhurst, Mississippi and died in 2002. Ford's early and avid interest in poetry prompted him to publish a magazine while he was still a young man in Mississippi. Blues: A Magazine of new rhythms attracted submissions from well-known writers such as Gertrude Stein and William Carlos Williams, as well as from new voices, James Farrell, Erskine Caldwell and Paul Bowles. Through the magazine Ford struck up a literary conversation with Parker Tyler, whose descriptions of bohemian life in New York's Greenwich Village drew Ford to New York. Ford turned their correspondence into the collaborative novel, Young and evil (Obelisk Press, 1933), described by Michael Duncan as "a fragmented record of cruising, drag balls and brittle repartee." ( Art Forum, p.25) It was when Young and evil was published that Ford re-stated his birthdate as 1913 to become (in his words) "younger and more evil." (Information from MaryLynn Broe, Grinnell College in a scholar note dated 27 March 1998 in Getty Research Library files.) Michael Duncan lists Ford's birthdate as 1908 in his essay on Ford in Art Forum, 41, no.5, Jan. 2003, p. 25.

In 1933 Ford traveled to Europe for the first time to meet artists and writers. In Paris he met the Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew. Pavel, apparently dazzled by Ford, moved with Ford to New York City and thus began the stormy 26-year relationship that continued until Tchelitchew's death in 1957.

Ford is probably best remembered for editing the influential avant-garde magazine View (1940-1947). Parker Tyler became the associate editor and they published the avant-garde, of which they were now a part.

Ford lived for extended periods in Nepal and Crete, keeping a home base in the Dakota in New York City. Besides his publishing projects, Ford wrote poetry and plays, produced photographs, collages, and an experiental film. Shortly before he died he exhibited his art works at the Scene Gallery in New York City.

In 1927 Ford wrote in his diary, "In two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. This is my oath." His papers document his intent, and his circle of intimates and acquaintances, the little known and the famous.




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