Lilly Library Manuscript Collections

BIRD, W. MSS.

The Bird, W. mss., 1923-1963, consists of the correspondence of Three Mountains Press publisher William Augustus Bird, 1888-1963. Born in Buffalo, New York, Bird became a journalist and with schoolmate David Lawrence started an international news syndicate, Consolidated Press Association, in 1920. He served as the European manager for the Association and while in Paris in 1922 established the Three Mountains Press as a hobby. Ezra Pound became editor for the press and selected and produced the first six volumes published by Bird. Meanwhile, Bird remained with Consolidated until it folded in 1933, then continued as chief foreign correspondent for the New York Sun until 1940. Bird retired to Tangier in 1945 and remained there until his death in 1963.

The collection divides itself chronologically into two distinct groups of correspondence. The first period, 1923- 1936, consists primarily of correspondence with Ezra Pound and involves the literary and publishing activities of both men, as well as comments on political affairs in Europe. The second group, 1940-1963, contains various correspondents reminiscing about the Paris days and seeking information about writer Robert McAlmon and his relationship to Bird, Three Mountains Press, etc. There are also several letters relating to Bird selling his private library.

Correspondents in the collection are Arthur Adams, Sylvia Beach, William Augustus Bird, Kay Boyle, William Christian Bullitt, Richard Ellman, Donald Clifford Gallup, Robert Edwin Knoll, Victoria McAlmon, John Dewitt Macomber, Jens Nyholm, Remsen Brinckerhoff Ogilby, Norman Holmes Pearson, David Posner, Dorothy Shakespear Pound, Ezra Loomis Pound, Homer Loomis Pound, Walter Bates Rideout, Florence (Herman) Williams, and William Carlos Williams.

An unpublished poem, "The earnest liberals lament" by Ernest Hemingway, and the manuscript of The great American novel by William Carlos Williams are also present.

A publisher's mock-up for cover, title, contents pages and trial signature of Ezra Pound's Antheil and the treatise on harmony (Paris, Three Mountains Press, 1924), a photograph inscribed to "...Sally and Billy Bird, Christmas, 1936", a publisher's mock-up for Pound's 16 Cantos (Paris, Three Mountains Press, 1925) with original headpieces for cantos 1, 3-5, 7-9, and 14 laid-in, and an unidentified private publication, A Letter [by Theo], Paris, March 1927, limited to twenty-five numbered copies, accompanied by some unfolded sheets, complete the collection.

Collection size: 135 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.