Bird, William, 1888-1963

Variant names

Hide Profile

William Bird (1888-1963), journalist, was owner and publisher of Three Mountains Press in Paris during the early 1920s. He later became editor of the English-language Tangier Gazette until its closure by the Moroccan authorities in 1960. He died in Paris in 1963.

From the description of William Bird Ezra Pound papers, 1900-1926. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702171724

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.

From the description of Papers 1923-1963. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 709863310

William Augustus Bird was born in Buffalo, New York, on or about January 2, 1889. He graduated from Trinity College, Hartford in 1912 and became a journalist in New York City, where he married Sarah (Sally) Costello. In 1920, he and longtime friend David Lawrence founded the Consolidated Press Service, and Bird moved with his family to Paris to take charge of the office there. They were to remain in France for 20 years.

Shortly after arriving in Paris, Bird became interested in the "hobby" of hand printing, bought a full set of Caslon type, and began printing brief works, including his own A Practical Guide to French Wines (1922). He moved the press into offices at 29, quai d'Anjou and announced the formation of Three Mountains Press; the colophon stylized both his initials and the three mountains of Paris and carried a verse from Psalm 121, "Levavi oculos meos in montes."

In April 1922, Bird met fellow journalist Ernest Hemingway as they were traveling to the Conferenza Internazionale Economica de Genova; he suggested that Bird contact a friend of his, American poet Ezra Pound. Pound immediately began to argue that Bird should "print the MODERNS." Bird agreed, appointing Pound editor of Three Mountains.

Between April 1923 and the end of 1925, Three Mountains Press published nine works. They included Indiscretions, Antheil and the Treatise on Harmony, and A Draft of XVI Cantos by Ezra Pound; The Great American Novel by William Carlos Williams; in our time by Ernest Hemingway; and Distinguished Air by Robert McAlmon. In addition, Bird provided free office space to Ford Madox Ford for the founding of transatlantic review .

Bird lost interest in the press, however. In 1928 he sold his handpress and typecases to Nancy Cunard and supervised its transportation to her home at Réanville, where it became the press for her Hours Press. In the following year, he sold his remaining stock of unsold books to "an American named Schwartz" for $150.00.

Bird continued his successful career as a journalist. He covered Admiral Byrd's flight over the North Pole from Spitzbergen in 1926, and in 1928 became president of the Anglo-American Press Association. The Consolidated Press Service was dissolved in 1933, and Bird joined the New York Sun as chief foreign correspondent. Bird and his family fled to Spain after the fall of France in 1940; in July of that year he wrote a series of articles for the Sun warning Americans war with Hitler was imminent.

After World War II the Birds moved to Tangier, where he was appointed an American representative to the Legislative Assembly of the Tangier International Zone in 1948. He was the editor of the English-language Tangier Gazette until 1960, when the Moroccan government, which had assumed authority over Tangier in 1956-57, closed the newspaper. Bird returned to France, where he died in Paris in August, 1963. He was survived by his daughter, Ann France Bird Wilson.

From the guide to the William Bird Ezra Pound papers, 1900-1926, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf William Bird Ezra Pound papers, 1900-1926 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Bird, William, 1888-1963. Papers 1923-1963. Indiana University
referencedIn Robert Knoll, Papers, 1955-1999 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library
referencedIn Ezra Pound Papers, 1868-1976 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Bird, William, 1888-1963. William Bird Ezra Pound papers, 1900-1926. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Robert McAlmon papers, 1916-1980, 1930-1952 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Antheil, George, 1900-1959. person
associatedWith Bedford, Agnes. person
associatedWith Berman, Louis, 1893-1946. person
associatedWith Gould Adams Scratton, B. M. (Bride M.) person
associatedWith Knoll, Robert E., 1922- person
associatedWith Kume, Tamijuro. person
associatedWith Kume, Tamijuro. person
associatedWith McAlmon, Robert, 1896-1956. person
associatedWith Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972 person
associatedWith Three Mountains Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Villon, François, b. 1431 person
associatedWith Villon, François, b. 1431 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
American literature
American poetry
Poets, American
Modernism (Literature)
Music and literature


Birth 1888

Death 1963





Ark ID: w6qz2t0p

SNAC ID: 39173157