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date: 14 June 2024

Ford, Richardlocked

Ford, Richardlocked

  • Brian Henry


Born on 16 February 1944 to Parker and Edna Ford, the novelist Richard Ford grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, and Little Rock, Arkansas. His father died of a heart attack on 20 February 1960, when Ford was sixteen. After graduating from high school in Jackson in 1962, he enrolled at Michigan State University and graduated with a degree in English in 1966. He then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps but was discharged after contracting hepatitis. In 1967, he attended law school at Washington University in St. Louis, but withdrew after a semester. The following year Ford married Kristina Hensley, an urban planner, and with his wife's support, he enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of California at Irvine, where he studied with E. L. Doctorow. A three-year Ford Foundation scholarship from 1972 to 1975 helped support him during the writing of his first novel, A Piece of My Heart, which appeared in 1976. He taught at the University of Michigan from 1975 to 1976, at Williams College from 1979 to 1980, and at Princeton University from 1980 to 1981. His second novel, The Ultimate Good Luck, was published in 1981 to weak sales and poor reviews. Discouraged by the reception of his first two novels, Ford quit fiction writing in 1981– also the year his mother died—and worked for Inside Sports magazine for a year, until the magazine ceased operation. He then started writing The Sportswriter, a novel that appeared in 1986 and was a commercial and critical success; along with his highly praised book of short stories, Rock Springs (1987), The Sportswriter resuscitated his career as a fiction writer. Ford received an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature in 1989, and he published the short novel Wildlife in 1990. He received the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for his novel Independence Day (1995), and in 1998 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He taught at Northwestern University from 1997 to 1999, publishing Women with Men, a book of three long stories, in 1997. A collection of short fiction, A Multitude of Sins, appeared in 2002


  • North American Literatures

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