The advice Julian Barnes offers young writers is "study The Good Soldier as an example of perfect and completely original narration and at the same time study his life as an example of negative career management."
In fact Ezra Pound complained that Ford "kept on discovering merit with monotonous regularity" although his lack of financial acumen meant the magazine only lasted a year.
Hermione and Julian visit the site of the Transatlantic Review offices where Ford's assistant (and work-horse) the Northumberland poet Basil Bunting "bunked down in a squalid little scullery." The cafes of Paris provided the venue for a weekly soiree, organised by Ford and his then companion Stella Bowen, which offered guests red wine, hot dogs and dancing.
And in the Luxembourg Gardens we hear a discussion of the tangled love life of Ford Madox Ford, his elopement with Elsie Martindale, a stint in Brixton prison and the women who followed Elsie: Violet Hunt "who took arsenic to keep herself looking younger" and the Australian painter Stella Bowen who described Ford as "the wise man I crossed the world to see".
Rebecca West described being embraced by Ford as like "being the toast under the poached egg." Others called him "a beached whale" or a "behemoth in grey tweed." He had a pink face, very blue eyes, very blond hair, and was rather chinless with a little moustache and a drawly voice.
Henry James is said to have used Ford for the model of the character Morton Densher in Wings of the Dove.
In his novel The Good Soldier he creates one of the best examples in literature of the unreliable narrator and his embroidered accounts of his own life provide a test for biographers.
Hermione and Julian swap examples of their favourite "whoppers" which include the church service he couldn't possibly have attended with DH Lawrence; the claim that he helped Marconi transmit the first wireless message across the Atlantic; that the chef Escoffier had said to him "I could learn cooking from you" and that he attended the second trial of Dreyfus.
Producer: Robyn Read.
Reader: Kerry Shale.