Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Charles Henri Ford -- The Man Who Beat the Beats by a Generation -- Gertrude Stein

Charles Henri Ford. Born Feb. 10, 1913, Brookhaven, MS.  Described as an "American poet, novelist, filmmaker, photographer and collage artist best known for his editorship of the surrealist magazine View (1940-1947) in New York City."

Earlier, I posted a professional photograph of actress/model Ruth Ford, the elder sister of Charles Henri Ford, an international literary and artistic force, who, like his sister, was born and bred in Brookhaven.

The Nouveau Bohemian siblings' parents hailed from Mississippi, but lived in numerous places in the South.  Roughly 100 years ago, the elder Fords owned/operated at least four hotels, among them the Inez in Brookhaven, which is how their two children came to be natives of Homeseekers' Paradise.

In 1929 Charles Henri, by now a Columbus, MS, high school drop-out at age 16, was lured to New York by his friend Parker Tyler, a native of New Orleans.  Ford started a magazine, Blues, subtitling it "A Bisexual Bimonthly."

In 1933, he and Tyler, who would go on to become a highly respected film critic, co-authored The Young and Evil.  The book has been described as "an energetically experimental novel" that was "obviously" influenced by fellow writers Djuna Barnes and Gertrude Stein.

Stein would later declare that the novel had "beat the Beat Generation by a generation."

The snapshot above is of Charles Henri, Ruth, and Indra Tamang, a native of Nepal who served as their butler in the Dakota Apartments in Manhattan for many years.  It was Tamang who inherited their combined $8.4 million estate upon Ruth's death in August 2009, at age 98. (Charles predeceased his sister in September 2002.)

Interestingly, Ruth Ford's last will and testament completely cut out out her only child, Shelley Scott.  The New York Post reported in May 2010 that Ruth's estranged daughter flew to New York and had lunch with Tamang.  

When asked about the butler's receiving the lion's share of the family estate, Shelley asserted to the Post she was self sufficient, did not need her mother's money, and simply could not understand why anyone would be interested in reading anything about "an old woman."
Photographer Unknown. (Cursor over the turquoise words for links to further reading.)

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