From the Soil: hunger, haute cuisine and food production

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The essay begins with Ford's marriage to Elsie Martindale and their frugal life in Romney Marsh. It discusses Ford's 'peasant biographies' and their focus on mushroom catsup and the subsistence level rural economy. This provides a context for a reading of and Ford's poem 'From the Soil (Two Monologues), whose two parts give voice to the Field Labourer and the Small Farmer. These early works (and the rural economy of Kent) are discussed in relation to the Swing Riots of 1830, the 1795 Poor Law, the Berkshire Bread Act, and the Union Workhouse. The second part of the essay considers Ford's life at Cap Brun in the 1930s: a frugal life revolving around kitchen gardening, writing and cooking. It includes a reading of Ford's poem 'L'Oubli - Temps de Secheresse' in this context to show its celebration of vegetable gardening but also to bring out the desperation occasioned by the drought. .
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)28-46
Number of pages18
JournalLast Post
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2022


  • Ford Madox Ford
  • Food
  • peasant biographies
  • Return to Yesterday
  • mushroom catsup
  • subsistence level
  • rural economy
  • frugality
  • estovers
  • labour
  • From the Soil (Two Monologues)
  • Field Labourer
  • Small Farmer
  • Berkshire Bread Act
  • Poor Law
  • Union Workhouse
  • Swing Riots
  • Captain Swing
  • rural poverty
  • L'oubl - Temps de Secheresse
  • Provence

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