Report by Larai Brigoli
The English Review lasted a total of 29 years (1908-1937). It's average length was about 175 pages per issue, yet its founder, Ford Madox Ford, made it affordable for all audiences: half a crown, or about an eighth of a pound (Rosetti). The balance of The English Review's pages were devoted to fiction, and the rest of it was made up of politics, literary reviews, and very occasionally poetry. Ford's goal was stated clearly in his first issue's editorial: "we are here not to cry out 'Go in this direction,' but simply to point out where we stand" (Ford 159).
The magazine's main selling point was its concentration of the works of many popular authors in one place. Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells were all featured in the very first issue. The equivalent of that today is similar to featuring special works by John Green, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling in a single blog post. How did Ford gather so many incredible authors? He became friends with all of them. Joseph Conrad influenced him the most, and even collaborated on a book together (Saunders). The English Review was also unique, because Ford was unafraid to publish works that were too controversial elsewhere. Rumor has it that the entire magazine started because Thomas Hardy couldn't find a place to publish his poem "A Sunday Morning Tragedy." It was rejected twice because the topic of abortion wasn't family-oriented enough, and the stance Hardy took with the poem was considered to be immoral (Welford). Ford was outraged, and he refused to let it go unpublished. This kind of "risky acceptance" became Ford's main focus for the magazine. He wanted to create an opportunity for authors that were already popular to publish the kind of literature that turned heads.
The English Review lacked any specific aesthetic. Ford relied on the bare necessity of good literature and literature alone. The English Review might have been more successful, if not for Ford's lack of business skills. His vision for the magazine was strong, but it never exceeded a circulation of 1,000 people. with each issue came an influx of more advertisements. When the magazine finally went bankrupt, Austin Harrison took Ford's editorial place. Harrison was able to continue capitalizing on their bevy of reputable authors, such as Yeats and Huxley, but after losing Ford's vision, the magazine began to lose its once-renowned quality. It lost its literary edge and began to err on the side of conservatism. As a result, it was later absorbed by the magazine The National Review, which continues to publish today (Rosetti).
Ford, Ford Madox, editor. "The English Review." The English Review, vol. 1, no. 1. Modernist Journals Project, modjourn.org/render.php?view=mjp_object&id=1183478104781250 accessed May 2019.
Saunders, Max. "Ford's Biography." The Ford Madox Ford Society, www.fordmadoxfordsociety.org/fords-biography.html accessed May 2019.
"The English Review." Ghent Altarpiece, www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/ap4.e532.raw.html accessed May 2019.
Welford, John. "Great Poetry Explained." Promises Like Pie-Crust, by Christina Rossetti, http://greatpoetryexplained.blogspot.com/2016/07/promises-like-pie-crust-by-christina.html accessed May 2019.