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Exhibition: Publishing Modernist Fiction and Poetry

Senate House Library holds little-known materials on modernist writers such as Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Nancy Cunard and Djuna Barnes. Their experimental texts were published by small presses and little magazines, but also attracted the attention of larger commercial book publishers. To gain greater control over the publication process, Woolf, Stein, Cunard and others created their own presses and engaged closely with the physical materiality of books. To mark the release of the edited collection Publishing Modernist Fiction and Poetry (Edinburgh University Press, 2019), this exhibition focuses on these fascinating modernist publishers that opened new markets for fiction and poetry.

From a mass of little-seen materials in Senate House Special Collections, Leila Kassir and Lise Jaillant have selected books, periodicals, correspondence and ephemera relating to three themes: (1) Women and Publishing; (2) Race and Modernism; (3) Middlebrow and Celebrity.

Among the items on display are letters by Virginia and Leonard Woolf, rare editions published by Nancy Cunard’s Hours Press, neglected periodicals and publicity materials. Short videos by experts of modernism contextualise the exhibition and the material context in which the new literature first appeared.

The exhibition will be on display from 17th to 28th June 2019 at Senate House University of London, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU (Room 101, 1st Floor).