Born in Mississippi and a high school dropout at 16, Charles Henri Ford had already begun his own magazine, Blues, at a young age. Soon, he was a member of Gertrude Stein's salon in Paris and spent time in Morocco at the suggestion of his friend Paul Bowles.
Ford's first novel, co-authored by Parker Tyler, was called The Young and Evil, and (in the words of Gertrude Stein) was "the novel that beat the Beat Generation by a generation." The novel discussed, in great detail, the wild travels and sexual exploits of young, penniless artists.
In 1938, Ford's first book of poetry, The Garden of Disorder, was published with an introduction by William Carlos Williams. Ford began View magazine in 1940, which was associated with surrealist and avant-garde art. The first monograph of View Editions was a book by Marcel Duchamp.
In the 1950s, Ford's visual art was shown in exhibits throughout Europe, including a photography exhibition at London's Institute of Contemporary Art. In 1962, Ford returned to New York and entered the pop art scene, creating a "color-poster fad." For the remainder of his life, he lived in The Dakota apartment building in Manhattan with his caretaker, Tamang, a young Nepalese man.