Cunard, Nancy (1896–1965) By Downum, Denell
A poet, journalist, publisher, radical intellectual, and political activist, Nancy Cunard operated at or near the centre of multiple modernist discourses. Her early poetry, especially the long poem Parallax, was deeply engaged with experimental forms and themes characteristic of high modernism. In 1928, she became a noteworthy figure in the small press movement, establishing the Hours Press and publishing work by avant-garde and modernist writers including Samuel Beckett, Laura Riding, and Ezra Pound. Cunard conceived the Negro anthology in 1930, eventually closing her press to focus on compiling this monumental exploration of transnational black culture. Published in 1934, the oversized volume included key figures of the Harlem Renaissance among its 150 contributors, but it proved controversial and sold poorly. As war threatened Europe, Cunard joined the anti-Fascist struggle, exposing atrocities as a reporter during the Spanish Civil War, publishing a political pamphlet called Authors Take Sides on the Spanish War, and working during World War II as a translator and publisher for the French Resistance.