Two typed letters to Ford’s publisher, John Lane, dictated by Ford to his lover Violet Hunt, with whom he was involved from 1910-1918. Dated December 1914 and March 1915, the letters concern the upcoming publication of The Good Soldier – Hunt was the inspiration for the shrewd Florence Dowell in that novel. In the first, Ford ruminates on possible alternate titles to “The Saddest Story,” the name under which a portion of the book appeared in Wyndham Lewis’s literary magazine Blast in 1914. Lane felt that "The Saddest Story" sounded too depressing and would hinder sales; Ford quips that perhaps they should rename it "The Roaring Joke." In the second letter, Ford characterizes the work as a "serious analysis on the polygamous desires that underlie all men" before commenting sarcastically that "the book would be proper reading for Birkenhead Police recruits who, by recommendation of the Home Office, must all be men of mature years." Both letters are signed with Ford’s legal name, Hueffer; he adopted Ford in 1919 allegedly because he felt Hueffer sounded too German.
Together with a later printing of The Good Soldier, lovingly inscribed to the dedicatee of this edition, Esther Gwendolyn “Stella” Bowen: To my always dear Stella, 16 April 1928, Ford Madox Ford. (The first edition, published in 1915, contained no dedication and no known dedication copy exists of the limited edition issued in 1927.) Bowen was Ford's next romantic interest after Hunt, and when they met and fell in love in 1918, Bowen was 24; Ford, 43. They never married, but traveled together as a couple – and raised a daughter together (Julie, born in 1920) – until they parted ways in Paris a year before the date of this inscription. Largely because of her association with Ford, Bowen enjoyed moderate success as an artist and art critic in the years that followed, and published a successful autobiography in 1941.
Finally, some interesting ephemera from the book’s later promotional history: nine index cards, ca. 1951, each containing this typed statement: “Ford’s The Good Soldier is one of the fifteen or twenty greatest novels in English produced in our century” and signed and annotated by notable authors of the day. Evelyn Waugh amended the statement to say “I think Ford’s The Good Soldier is one of the finest novels in English written in this century”; and hilariously, Christopher Isherwood offered his dissent, writing, “Sorry, but I don’t agree. Though I would gladly have signed such a statement regarding Parade’s End.” Other enthusiasts include poet Horace Gregory, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jean Stafford, and longtime literary editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, Joseph Henry Jackson.