Nancy Cunard (1896 – 1965) was a renowned beauty and remarkable woman who used her inherited wealth to aid various radical causes. Cunard is most famous now perhaps for the vast anthology Negro (1934), which she put together with her sometime lover, the jazz pianist, Henry Crowder, and for the pamphlet she edited in 1937, Authors Take sides on the Spanish War. In 1928 she set up the Hours Press in France. Among its earliest publications was a small collection of poems, Whorescope, by the then unknown Samuel Beckett.
She published four collections of her own poems and in 1943, at the suggestion of Edward Thompson (father of the historian E.P Thompson, and poetry editor for the publishers Benn), she began to assemble all the verse she wished to preserve, for an intended edition. Thompson died in 1944 and the typescript of the poems was left among his papers. These were eventually deposited at the Bodleian, and Cunard’s poems have been retrieved from this typescript by the kind permission of Dorothy Thompson, to form the text of the present edition.
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