When the young American painter, Janice Biala, met the English Novelist Ford Madox Ford, she was twenty-six and he was fifty-seven. They met in Paris on May Day, 1930, at one of Ford’s regular Thursday afternoon salons. Lured to the gathering with the promise of meeting Ezra Pound, whom she much admired, Biala instead found herself alongside Ford, the incorrigible romancer. Ford, legendary and proud, perched himself along side Biala at the edge of the long divan, and in the dim light the pair “seem to be alone…” recalled Ford in his collection of poems dedicated to Biala.[i]
Their meeting was the kind of spontaneous fiction, for which Ford was famous—the principal character being himself. That afternoon extended into dinner at the invitation of Willard Trask and later Ford took Biala and her friend Eileen Lake out dancing. Those close to Ford reported knowing straightway that he was in love with Biala. Biala too was quite taken by Ford and before long, the hours stretched into days and days stretched into weeks and then years. Biala became his constant companion. Moreover, she became his greatest advocate.
Upon Ford’s death in 1939, Biala risked life and limb traveling back to the Italian occupied south of France to Toulon and rescued Ford’s library, manuscripts and papers from the Villa Paul, Cap Brun. With this important collection safely on its way to New York, Biala took cover in Nice then traveling North she fled Nazi occupied France with her paints and the few paintings she could carry.
As Ford’s great advocate, now executor, Biala saw to it that Ford’s work would continue to be published and re-published.
In 1997 an international society was founded to promote knowledge of and interest in the life and work of Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939). To highlight this historic relationship this portion of the website is dedicated to Biala and her relationship with Ford Madox Ford and will feature articles on, images of, and correspondences about Ford Madox Ford.
To be directed to the Ford Madox Ford Society click here
[i] Fleuve Profound: Nuitee a l’Americaine, a poem by Ford Madox Ford reprinted in Buckshee: last poems of Ford Madox Ford, Cambridge: Pym-Randall Press, 1966, p.5.