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Modernist Writers in Special Collections

A Guide to Literary Modernism in Special Collections and University Archives.

Modernist Works from Small Presses and Publishers

Many editions of modernist works were published by small presses and publishers.  Modernists often founded their own presses and publishing companies in order to publish their friends' work, particularly work that was so controversial that it could never find a mainstream publisher.  This impulse contributed to founding of organization such as The Hogarth Press and Contact Publishing. 

Small presses also enabled the book makers to create works that were of a higher quality and greater artistic value.  Additionally, small presses and publishers enabled their owners to advocate for causes and movements that mattered to them, whether it was the Cuala Press and the Celtic Revival or the Left Review and communism. 

Below is a selection of works from small presses and publishers that were active during the modernist period.  For additional titles search the catalog or contact us.

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Black Sun Press

The Black Sun Press was founded in 1927 by Henry and Caresse Crosby, an American expatriate couple living in Paris.  The Black Sun Press often published the early works of modernist writers before they achieved mainstream success.  The Black Sun Press was also noteworthy for the high quality of its publications and for being the longest lasting expatriate press in Paris.

Contact Publishing

Contact Publishing was founded in 1923 by Robert McAlmon, an American author living in France.  McAlmon also financed the publication of Djuna Barnes' Ladies Almanack.

Cuala Press

The Cuala Press was founded by Elizabeth Yeats, with assistance from her brother, the modernist poet W.B. Yeats.  The Cuala Press was instrumental in the 20th century Celtic Revival, a resurgence of interest in the Celtic literature and art.

The Egoist and Egoist Press

Harriet Shaw Weaver founded the Egoist Press in order to publish James Joyce's The Portrait of  the Artist as a Young Man, which was having difficulty finding a British publisher.  The Egoist Press served as an extension of The Egoist, the influential modernist literary magazine that Weaver edited.

Harrison of Paris

Harrison of Paris was founded in 1930 by Monroe Wheeler and Barbara Harrison Wescott, the sister-in-law of Wheeler's longtime partner Glenway Wescott.

Hogarth Press

Hogarth Press was founded by Leonard and Virginia Woolf, two of the most prominent modernists and members of the Bloomsbury group, an informal group of modernist authors, artists, and intellectuals.  In addition to publishing the works by the Woolfs' friends and acquaintances, Hogarth Press published works on psychoanalysis and translations of foreign works.

The Hours Press

The Hours Press was founded in France in 1928, when British expatriate Nancy Cunard purchased the Three Mountains Press, which had published works by well known modernists such as Ernest Hemingway and William Carlos Williams.  The Hours Press is known for the high quality of its works.  Cunard was a writer and an activist for civil rights in the United States and for anti-fascist efforts.  Cunard's inherited wealth enabled her to offer higher pay to young artists, who would have been a financial risk otherwise.  

Left Review

The Left Review was a communist journal established in 1934 by the International Union of Revolutionary Wrtiers.

Manikin

Manikin was a magazine published by Monroe Wheeler.

The Modern Editions Press

The Modern Editions Press was a press founded by Kathleen Tankersley Young, a poet and editor who was part of the Harlem Renaissance.  

Obelisk Press

Obelisk Press was founded in by Paris in 1929 by Jack Kahne, a British writer and publisher.

transition

Transition was a literary journal founded in Paris by Maria McDonald and her husband Eugene Jolas in 1927.  Transition often featured works in modernist subgenres such as Dada and Surrealism.

Three Mountains Press

Three Mountains Press was a Parisian press that was founded in the 1920s by Bill Bird, an American journalist and publisher.  Three Mountains Press would later be purchased by Nancy Cunard, who converted it into the Hours Press.

Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company was a bookstore founded in Paris in 1929 by an American named Sylvia Beach.  While Shakespeare and Company is best known as a bookstore, it also published the work of many prominent modernists.

Wishart and Company

Wishart and Company was a small, family owned publisher that specialized in left-wing and anti-fasicist works.  In 1936 Wishart and Company combined with Martin Lawerence, the Communist Party press, to form Lawerence & Wishart.