Cover image for A literary friendship : correspondence between Caroline Gordon & Ford Madox Ford
A literary friendship : correspondence between Caroline Gordon & Ford Madox Ford
Gordon, Caroline, 1895-1981.
First edition.
Publication Information:
Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxxvi, 116 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
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PS3513.O5765 Z49 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Southern novelist Caroline Gordon maintained a friendship with English editor and author Ford Madox Ford that figures prominently in the literary history of the twentieth century. Ford was Gordon's generous mentor, showing an interest in her work that helped build her confidence as a writer. Gordon, for her part, helped promote Ford to an American audience. The present publication of the close correspondence between them throws a new, important light on their relationship.

These letters, all but one of which have never before been published, cover the years 1930-1939--from Gordon's completion of her first novel, Penhally, to Ford's death. Reflecting the period in which they enjoyed their closest contact, the correspondence testifies to the depth and breadth of the mutual esteem in which they held each other.
The correspondence touches on many facets of both literary life and life itself, offering unusual glimpses into the unconventional world in which Gordon and Ford moved. The letters reveal much about the economic hardships of writers and artists during the Depression era, and the two authors exchange advice on how to make a decent living from their work. Gordon's letters in particular give vivid and often amusing insights into the life of a struggling writer. Gordon and Ford also comment on a number of well-known authors and editors of their day--including Katherine Anne Porter, Maxwell Perkins, Robert Penn Warren, Ellen Glasgow, and William Faulkner. More important, they discuss each other's work and exchange thoughts on literary technique. On the informal side, they share their passion for raising vegetables and chickens.

Brita Lindberg-Seyersted's introduction provides a biographical and historical context for the correspondence, and her annotations to the letters identify the many literary personages and allusions they include. This carefully assembled volume enhances our appreciation of both of these authors and helps illuminate the modernist era of Anglo-American literature.

The Editor: Brita Lindberg-Seyersted is professor of American literature at the University of Oslo. Among her other books is Pound/Ford: The Story of a Literary Friendship.

Author Notes

The Editor: Brita Lindberg-Seyersted is professor of American literature at the University of Oslo. Among her other books is Pound/Ford: The Story of a Literary Friendship.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Neither Caroline Gordon nor Ford Madox Ford are much read these days. Nevertheless, British fiction writer Ford, author of, most notably, the four-part masterpiece Parade's End (1924^-28), was considered a major writer in the first half of the century. And southerner Gordon, wife of poet Allen Tate, had earned, before her death in 1981, an impressive reputation for her novels and short stories, her most famous novel being Penhally (1931). Ford functioned more or less as Gordon's mentor, and she, in turn, served as Ford's introducer to American reading audiences. Their correspondence is gathered here, documenting their friendship from beginning to end: 1930 to 1939. The writer's concerns are, of course, the main ingredient of their letters--how their work is faring, with whom in the literary world they have spoken or written to, and lending support and appreciation to each other's literary efforts. Editor Lindberg-Seyersted's introduction sets the background excellently. --Brad Hooper

Choice Review

Only one of these 56 letters (from holdings at Cornell and Princeton) was previously published, so the correspondence of the American Gordon and the British Ford will be of great interest to students of both authors. Gordon's voice dominates, since she wrote 42 of the surviving letters from an exchange that dates between 1930 and Ford's death in 1939. In a detailed and very useful introduction, Lindberg-Seyersted (Univ. of Oslo) provides the literary and biographical background for the transatlantic relationship of the two modernists, who read each other's manuscripts, spent long visits in each other's homes (from Tennessee and New York to Paris and Provence), and gossiped about such contemporaries as Katherine Anne Porter and Robert Penn Warren. Gordon's husband, southern agrarian writer Allen Tate, and Ford's companion, artist Janice Biala, figure importantly in the letters, but correspondence focuses on Gordon's developing career. "Ford's significance for Gordon the writer was invaluable," Lindberg-Seyersted concludes. At the same time, the Tates did what they could to secure speaking and teaching opportunities for the author of The Good Soldier and the Parade's End tetralogy, enhancing Ford's reputation in the US. Strongly recommended for all academic libraries serving upper-division undergraduates and above. J. W. Hall; University of Mississippi