The Cunard heiress who took Paris in the jazz age by storm; Muse and lover to the 20th century's greatest writers and artists, campaigner against racism, opponent of fascism - the fascinating story of Nancy Cunard is revealed by city academic Dr Sandeep Parmar.
Byline: CATHERINE JONES ECHO Arts Editor email@example.com BodenJones @
SHE was a writer, muse, publisher and political activist - and some dub her the 'black sheep' of the Cunard clan. Now people will be able to learn more about Nancy Cunard in a talk being given in Liverpool as part of the Three Queens, One Magnificent City weekend next month.
Dr Sandeep Parmar will talk about the flamboyant heiress at the Maritime Museum on May 23, part of the University of Liverpool's Port of Call lecture series. Dr Parmar explains: "A lot of people will know her from the famous Man Ray photograph of her, but probably have no idea who she is.
"She was important as a muse, but also as a publisher and promoter of people's work.
"She's the kind of figure that you catch out of the corner of your eye, and you think 'she's interesting, I'll come back to her!' "I started to dig, and realised there was so much people haven't talked about."
Nancy Cunard was born in 1896, the daughter of Sir Bache Cunard - heir to the shipping line, and American society hostess Maude Alice 'Emerald' Burke.
Following a short-lived marriage during World War I, she moved to Paris where she became muse to leading 20th century writers including Ezra Pound, T S Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, and Aldous Huxley - she was the model for two of his characters.
Along with Man Ray, the slim, striking Nancy was also immortalised by Cecil Beaton, Oskar Kokoschka and Wyndham Lewis.
She herself set up The Hours Press, supporting writers.
In 1928 she started a relationship with African-American jazz musician Henry Crowder, and became a political and anti-racism activist. She was also involved in fighting against fascism.
Nancy's style was influenced greatly by African style and culture.
And it was through African art and artefacts, and her interest in Britain's Black history and communities, that she visited Liverpool in later life.
In 1943 she attended a meeting of the League of Coloured Peoples in the city.
She later visited West Indies House where Jamaican volunteer technicians were lodged, and lobbied for the restoration of the bomb-hit Liverpool Free Museum and its collection of African artefacts well into the 1950s.
The free Port of Call lecture on Nancy Cunard takes place at the Maritime Museum on May 23 at 3pm.
Other lectures in the series are Mermaids in Their Element, at the Maritime Museum on May 15 at 6pm; Down to the sea in ships 'Horatio Clare' at Waterstones Liverpool One on May 24 at 3pm; Edward Rushton at the Maritime Museum on June 6 at 3pm, and Questions of travel, Elizabeth Bishop at the Museum of Liverpool on July 5 at 3pm.
| The cover of Nancy Cunard: Heiress, Muse, | |Political Idealist by Lois Gordon, left, and some of the men who fell under Nancy's spell: Cecil Beaton, top, Ernest Hemingway, left and T S Eliot, right
Dr Sandeep Parmar of the University of Liverpool with a rare edition of Nancy Cunard's poem Parallax |