On Campden Hill Road in between Observatory Gardens and Tor Gardens is an elegant semi-detached house displaying a blue plaque to novelist and critic Ford Madox Ford. The plaque was put up in 1973 not by English Heritage but by the Greater London Council – ah, those halcyon days!
Ford seems to have been an aficionado of ‘name creep’. Born Ford Hermann Hueffer in 1873, at some point both he and his brother adopted Madox as a middle name in honour of their maternal grandfather Ford Madox Brown, the pre-Raphaelite painter. (Ford Madox Brown himself got his middle name from his mother Caroline Madox.) Then in 1919, after WW1, Ford Madox Hueffer changed his name to Ford Madox Ford because Hueffer sounded too German.
The house in Campden Hill Road was known as South Lodge, after the astronomer Sir James South. Ford Madox Brown (or Ford Madox Hueffer as he then was) lived there between 1913 and 1915, as the ‘paying guest’ of author and hostess Violet Hunt, after his first wife Elsie, with whom he had eloped in 1894, refused to divorce. During his time at South Lodge he and Violet held literary salons as ‘Mr and Mrs Ford Hueffer’, attended by the likes of Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, DH Lawrence, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Arnold Bennett and HG Wells. Ford also found time to write The Good Soldier, which I remember reading 100 years ago and enjoying very much. It is now on my to-read-again list.
By summer 1915 Mr and Mrs Ford Hueffer’s affair was pretty much over and he decided to become a good soldier himself, enlisting into the Welch Regiment of the British Army on 30 July 1915.
© Chris Lawrence 2019.