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Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford: Romance

Romance was the second collaboration between Conrad and Ford. Their initial collaboration had been to rewrite Ford’s Seraphina but they had abandoned that idea to write The Inheritors. Conrad actually wrote more of this novel than he had done of The Inheritors and was writing it while writing or thinking about other works, including Rescue and Nostromo. It attempts to be a popular novel and, for that reason, had more commercial success than some of its predecessors, though less critical success.

The hero and narrator is John Kemp. He very quickly gets involved in a complicated plot, involving Carlos Riego, the Spanish kinsman of Ralph Rooksby, the neighbor of the Kemp family who has just proposed to and been accepted by Kemp’s sister, Veronica. Riego has to leave the country suddenly because of smuggling activities and Kemp is to assist him but the escape misfires and Kemp is caught by the Bow Street Runners. He gets away but has to leave the country and goes to the West Indies with Riego. In Kingston, he gets into trouble with the powers that be and also meets the lovely Seraphina, cousin of Riego. He also gets involved with a band of Irish rebels (exiles from the 1798 rebellion), led by Judge O’Brien. Pirates, romantic Spaniards, dashing señoritas, treachery, imprisonment, drama and, of course, romance, are ingredients of this novel. It is great fun but, had it not been written by Ford and Conrad, I suspect it would have long since been forgotten.

Publishing history

First published 1903 by Smith, Elder & Co.