Richard Ford

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Jackson, Mississippi
Birth Sign
Jackson, Mississippi

Richard Ford is an American author of novels and short stories. He also has a long history of teaching. He began his writing career as a fiction writer, but his first books didn’t get much attention, so Ford switched to writing about sports instead. But as luck would have it, the magazine where he worked went out of business, and he had to start writing fiction again. But this time, his books got noticed because his novel “The Sportswriter” and collection of short stories called “Rock Springs” struck a chord with the literary world. Most of his stories take place in the state of Montana, which he knows well. He is well-known for his series of books about the character Frank Bascombe, such as “The Sportswriter,” “Independence Day,” and “The Lay of the Land.” Ford has been an Adjunct Professor at the Oscar Wilde Centre with the School of English at Trinity College, Dublin, and a senior fiction professor at the University of Mississippi. He is now the Emmanuel Roman and Barrie Sardoff Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Writing at the Columbia University School of the Arts. He has won a lot of important literary awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, and many more.

Childhood and Adolescence

Ford was born in Mississippi to Parker Carrol Ford, a traveling salesman for Faultless Starch in Kansas City. Ford spent the majority of his boyhood in Arkansas with his grandpa, who was a hotel owner.

Ford took a hiatus from school after finishing high school and worked as a locomotive engineer’s assistant on the Missouri Pacific railway line. Later, he enrolled at Michigan State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree.

Ford began teaching in a junior high school in Flint, Michigan, after graduation, then served in the US Marine Corps for a while until being discharged due to hepatitis.

Ford briefly attempted law school but dropped out and enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at the University of California, Irvine. In 1970, he earned his Master’s degree.

Richard Ford’s Career

In 1971, Ford was awarded a three-year appointment in the University of Michigan Society of Fellows after receiving his Master’s degree in fine arts from the University of California.
Ford’s debut novel, ‘A Piece of My Heart,’ was released in 1976 and told the story of two unlikely travelers who meet on an island in the Mississippi River. Following that, he published ‘The Ultimate Good Luck (1981)’.

He taught at Williams College and Princeton for a short time while he was having his works published. His books were not commercially successful, so he stopped writing fiction and went to work for ‘Inside Sports.’
Ford lost his job when the magazine went out of business. In 1986, he returned to fiction writing, publishing ‘The Sportswriter,’ a story about an author who turned to sports writing after a personal crisis.

The book was chosen as a nominee for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was named one of Time magazine’s five greatest novels of 1986. The next year, Ford published ‘Rock Springs,’ his second book.

‘Rock Springs’ is an anthology of short stories set in Montana. His writings focused on the lives of the outcast and disadvantaged, and he became renowned as one of the pioneering writers of ‘dirty realism.’

‘Wildlife,’ a story about a Montana golf champion who becomes a firefighter, was released in 1990. He also edited books such as the “Best American Short Stories,” the “Granta Book of the American Short Story,” and others.

Ford won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel “Independence Day” in 1995. He also won the Rea Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Short Story for his work in that genre.
Ford worked as a professor at Bowdoin College (2005), as an Adjunct Lecturer at Trinity College, Dublin (2008), and as a senior fiction professor at the University of Mississippi in the 2000s (2011).

He continued to write and published works such as ‘A Multitude of Sins (2002),’ ‘The Lay of the Land (2006),’ and ‘Canada (2012),’ all of which are part of the ‘Frank Boscombe series. He began his career as an instructor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts (2012).

Ford’s Major Projects

Ford’s ‘Frank Bascombe series, which includes novels like ‘The Sportswriter,’ ‘Independence Day,’ for which he won the Pen/Faulkner Award,’ and ‘The Lay of the Land,’ is regarded as his most memorable work.

Achievements and Awards

Ford has won numerous awards for his work, including the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and the Prix Femina Etranger (‘Canada’).

Personal History and Legacy

Ford met his wife Kristina Hensley while studying at Michigan State University and they married in 1968. Hensley was the executive director of the city planning commission in Louisiana, where they live.

Estimated Net worth

American novelist and short-story writer Richard Ford has a $3 million net worth. Richard Ford was born in February 1944 in Jackson, MS. Before he went to Michigan State University, Richard worked on the Missouri Pacific train line.


Literary analogies have been made between Ford’s work and those of John Updike, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and Walker Percy.

Ford claims that his slight dyslexia is the reason he succeeded in literature since it allowed him to absorb information more slowly and attentively.
Ford studied under Oakley Hall and E. L. Doctorow at the University of California.