ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Henry Justice Ford

Updated on February 1, 2016
H. J. Ford - illustration from the Violet Fairy Book
H. J. Ford - illustration from the Violet Fairy Book

Who Was Henry J. Ford?

Henry Justice Ford was a very successful illustrator at the end of 19th and at the beginning of 20th century. Today he is mostly known for collaboration with Scottish editor, literary critic, and collector of folk tales Andrew Lang, who created so-called Colored Fairy Books, but he also contributed his talents to other works by Lang and other important literary names of his time. As many of his contemporaries, he also contributed to numerous magazines and was a portrait painter as well.

The quality of Ford's work, no matter if we are looking at pen and ink or watercolors, is astonishing, especially if we consider how much he did and how long he was active. In four decades of intensive work, he got a chance to illustrate hundreds of fairy tales, stories, legends, and fables. His style varied, but his ink work and sense for design stayed consistent with his initial preferences.

Essentially he was a romantic painter who liked to create sensual characters in dramatic settings and we'll check some of his finest examples.

(intro image from Violet Fairy Book, all used images are in Public Domain)

The Cunning Hare, American Indian Fable
The Cunning Hare, American Indian Fable

Short biography of H J Ford

Henry J. Ford was born in 1860 in London as one of seven (!) brothers. His father was a solicitor and his grandfather was also a solicitor and money lender. His family wasn't known by art, but cricket. Henry's father wrote several books on the subject and all seven brothers (including Henry, who was a member of J. M. Barrie's - yes, the author of Peter Pan - Allahakbarrie Cricket Club) played this popular game. The eldest brother William and the youngest Francis were among best players of their generation in the world.

Henry studied at Repton School, Clare College, Slade School of fine Art and Bushy School of Art. His first exhibitions in 1892 at royal Academy paved his way into historical scenes which soon culminated in the imaginary world of fairy tales with knights, maidens, dwarfs, witches, dragons and all sorts of monsters by which he achieved world recognition, although today he is unjustly almost unknown in comparison of his contemporary Arthur Rackham.

Henry was over sixty years old when he married for the first time with a woman more than half younger of his age. His wife Emily was a stage artist and already a widow (her husband was killed in a battle). Six years after the marriage they adopted a girl named Freda May Snowdown, but she was soon renamed to June Mary Magdalene).

Henry Justice died in 1941. His paintings can be found in many worlds known galleries, he portrayed many famous contemporaries, including royalties, but his major legacy is definitely a collection of books of fairy tales with which whole generations of children grew up. Many of these books (originals or reprints) are still in families and we can say his work made him immortal this way.

Where to buy Colored Fairy Books?

Literary history is full of charming books, but it's hard to find anything comparable to series of Andrew Lang's fairy books with hundreds of stories for children from all over the world. H. J. Ford's illustrations significantly contributed to their success and now they are considered as a very special treasure in many households.

Fortunately, they are all available for affordable price.

The Blue Fairy Book (Dover Children's Classics)
The Blue Fairy Book (Dover Children's Classics)

Everything started with the Blue Fairy Book, but on this page, you'll find links to all other books in the series (twelve altogether) as well.

Beauty and the Beast, illustrated by H. J. Ford
Beauty and the Beast, illustrated by H. J. Ford | Source

Few words about Coloured Fairy Books

This is a collection of twelve volumes published between 1889 and 1910. Each book was named after one color (first was blue, next red, and so on to the last which was lilac). Most of the books were republished and several stories from different volumes were also published in special volumes, (for instance Rose Fairy Book), some well-known stories were published under less known names and many fairy tales were adapted for children, what in some cases resulted in shallower characters and less convincing plots.

Anyway, this collection made a huge impact and many editors and collectors followed Lang's example. This collection found the way to hundreds of thousands of homes and imaginative illustrations certainly helped to achieve that. Only free illustrators contributed to first editions of these twelve books of fairy tales and only H. J. Ford made drawings for all of them.

This was tremendous opportunity to lay his hands on a wide variety of fairy tales, from works by brothers Grimm, Madame d'Aulnoy, Charles Perrault and H. C. Andersen, fables from Arabian Nights to folktales of almost unknown tribes of Africa and American Indians.

Aquarels by H. J. Ford - Color plates from Arabian Nights Entertainments

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thus They Rode All DayThe Genius Commands the Young Man to Slay the PrincessThe Prince and the Princess Arrive at the Capital of Persia on the Enchanted Horse
Thus They Rode All Day
Thus They Rode All Day
The Genius Commands the Young Man to Slay the Princess
The Genius Commands the Young Man to Slay the Princess
The Prince and the Princess Arrive at the Capital of Persia on the Enchanted Horse
The Prince and the Princess Arrive at the Capital of Persia on the Enchanted Horse

Arabian Nights Entertainments, a collection of stories, told by Scheherazade to her husband who developed a nasty habit of killing his wives after the wedding night, is definitely one of Ford's masterpieces. More than sixty illustrations in pen and ink and four colored plates were published in a so-called crown edition by Longman in 1889.

Longman, a London-based publishing house (with seats in New York and Toronto too), published Coloured Fairy Books as well.

Inkwork by H. J. Ford - Selection from The Green Fairy Book

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Henry Justice Ford's influences

H. J. Ford as he often signed his works, was influenced by some famous contemporaries, like Edward Bourne-Jones and Pre-Raphaelites, who all loved to portray sensuous ladies and produced many immortal portraits of real or fictitious characters, or Walter Crane, the master of design with incredible eye for details, who managed to fuse text and graphic material in unique results.

Edward Borne-Jones (1833-1899) was one of his best friends and same is true for James Matthew Barrie, the author of Peter Pan (Ford designed costumes for the premiere of Peter Pan theater show and draw a map Kensington Gardens). He was also friend with Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, and Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, who became famous thanks to stories about Jeeves and Wooster.

We can also say H. J. Ford influenced hundreds of artists all over the world who still create new fairy worlds for today's children and posterity as well.

He spent the last years of his life near Kensington Gardens

Which did you prefer?

See results

Suggested readings

If you like the subject, there are few addresses, where you can find more info, but I have to warn you - these trips can be really time-consuming:)

© 2014 Tolovaj Publishing House

Are you familiar with Coloured Fairy Books and Henry J. Ford's work? - Can you share some of your experience with us?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      23 months ago from Ljubljana

      Thank you vocalcoach, I appreciate it!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      2 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      What a wonderful introduction to a man I've not heard of until now. Ford was a gifted artist. Thanks for the photos too. Sharing.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      3 years ago from Ljubljana

      My pleasure, Nell Rose, and thanks for stopping by!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Hi, I had never heard of him before, so this was fascinating, and those pictures are so lovely, thanks for teaching me something new!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      He created many great illustrations and was good painter as well. Thanks for stopping by, aesta1!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for the introduction to H. Ford. Another artist to know.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      Thanks, colorfulone, for your feedback and support:)

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      4 years ago from Minnesota

      I have admire several of these illustrations by Henry Justice Ford, but I see a dew that I had missed. Thank you for putting this collection together, and for the background. Interesting! +

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Richard1988: Now I'm a little jealous ...


    • Richard1988 profile image


      4 years ago from Hampshire - England

      We actually have a couple of prints of Henry J Ford's illustrations. They really are magnificent.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @WriterJanis2: His work is a bit underestimated, I guess. Glad to introduce him:)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      4 years ago

      This is the first I have heard of him, but I must say I love his illustrations.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)