Staging Nancy Cunard: The Question of Persona in Dramatizing her Life and Work

Sasha Colby


Nancy Cunard presents us with one of modernism’s most concentrated examples of the role of persona in shaping the reception of a literary figure.  A writer, publisher, and activist, Cunard was firmly entrenched in the working world, an attachment that she makes clear in her varied autobiographical writings.   By contrast, the tabloid press, other modernists, and critics have deployed various versions of Cunard – a series of personas marked by their variety (racist vs. race reformer; dilettante vs. pioneering intellectual);  the intensity of the debate as to which one constitutes the ‘real’ Nancy Cunard; and, frequently, the marked exclusion of many of Cunard’s working activities.  In this process-based account, the author considers the range and scope of the personas that have circulated around Cunard, Cunard’s establishment of a working counter-persona in her autobiographical writing, and the processes of working with these competing iterations in her play about Cunard’s life and work, These Were the Hours.     


Nancy Cunard; research-creation; persona; press; authorship; work

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License | ISSN 2205-5258