John Ford was born in Ilsington in Devon in 1586 into a wealthy family. A John Ford is mentioned as having entered Exeter College in 1601 which may or not be him but what is certain is that at some stage on or before 1606 he joined the Middle Temple in London, whether as a student or a boarder is unknown. He was temporarily expelled for not paying his bills in 1606, the same year as he wrote two works, Fame’s Memorial, a long elegy on the late 1st Earl of Devonshire, Charles Blount, and Honour Triumphant, a prose pamphlet.
In 1608 he was readmitted to the Middle Temple and over the next few years continued to write, publishing the long religious poem Christ’s Bloody Sweat and a prose essay The Golden Mean in 1613 and a further prose essay The Line of Life in 1620. From then onwards he concentrated on becoming a dramatist, collaborating with other prominent playwrights such as Dekker, Messenger, and Fletcher on at least six plays.
From 1626 onwards he wrote eight surviving plays as a sole author including his most famous, ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore, as well as a number which have been lost. His plays deal mainly with the conflict between passion and conscience. Although remembered primarily as a playwright, he wrote a number of other poems on themes of love and morality. He died in 1639, one of the leading literary figures of the Jacobine and Caroline age.
'Tis Pity She's a Whore (New Mermaids)