H. J. Ford

© 2013, Nabila Islam

Henry Justice Ford (1860–1941), was quite prolific throughout his career as an illustrator. He is best known for his collaboration with Andrew Lang on the coloured Fairy Books. Ford had an illustrious education, attending Repton School and Clare College in Cambridge (where he attained a background in the classics), the Slade School of Fine Art in London with Alphonse Legros and Sir Hubert von Herkomer’s Art School at Bushey.

Although best known as an illustrator, Ford had wide-spread interests. The fourth of seven sons to Augustus Ford, a solicitor, and his wife, Katherine Mary, he was as interested in cricket as the rest of the Ford family. Ford was able to foster a connection with J. M. Barrie while playing cricket with Barrie’s Allahakbarrie Cricket Club. He was friends with many renowned figures of his time, such as P. G. Wodehouse and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He was a friend of Sir Edward Burne-Jones, a British artist associated with the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Ford, who also did history paintings and landscapes, was able to exhibit some at the Royal Academy and New Gallery.

A quote from “L. D. L.” in The Times provides a summary of Ford: “The name of Henry Justice Ford was familiar from the 1880s to innumerable children…Every year his inexhaustible fancy produced illustrations, decorative, charming, and sometimes a little alarming, of princes and princesses and fairies, demons, and animals…it is by his illustrations he is remembered, though he never had quite the reputation as an artist he desired, perhaps, because he was reckoned ‘only an illustrator’.”