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This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the October 22, 2003

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Princeton Red Hummingbird Takes Wing

I‘ve been a writer most of my life," says Hanna

Fox, co-founder of Princeton’s newest independent publishing house,

Red Hummingbird Press. Fox, who has taught creative writing in the

area for more than 20 years and continues to teach fiction writing

techniques at the Princeton Adult School, says her interest in


an independent press goes back decades.

"I saw so many wonderful manuscripts during my years of teaching

creative writing, my feeling was that here were some wonderful


that just didn’t make it into the marketplace," says Fox, who

retired from her job with the state last year at age 65. "Then

the right people emerged in my life, and the dream has become a


Red Hummingbird Press hosts a book party to celebrate Fox’s dream

and the publication of its first book, "Candle in a Dark Time"

by Virginia Stuart at the Arts Council of Princeton on Sunday, October

26, from 4 to 6 p.m. Joining Hanna Fox, Red Hummingbird publisher

and editor-in-chief, is writer Robin Cunningham who will be


for administration and finance, and Fox’s son David Fox, in charge

of communications and the company website.

"Our mission is to publish authors whose works make a social


but may fall outside the mainstream market," says Fox. "We’d

like our books to reflect the complexities, contradictions, and


of the human condition. We think we’ve made the right start with


Stuart’s novel."

When operating at full capacity, Fox says Red Hummingbird Press plans

to publish three books a year. Its books will include works of


memoir, biography, autobiography, non-fiction, and poetry. She


the press as a bootstrapping effort supported by an "extremely

limited budget," with capital investment by all three principals,

some loans, "and a lot of sweat equity."

Hanna Fox was hired as a writer by the State of New Jersey in the

mid-1980s and worked in a variety of posts over a period of 17 years,

including the Department of Human Services, Division of Youth and

Family Services, initially in the office of community education, and

then, for nine years, as program director of the Children’s Trust

Fund to prevent child abuse. For the two years before retirement she

was in the Office of Information Technology, working as a manager

of communications and creative services, responsible for the state’s

web presence.

David Fox was raised in Princeton, went to Johns Hopkins, and earned

a master’s in public health at Columbia, where he is now two months

short of completing his PhD. Taking advantage of today’s ease of


he plans to continue to work professionally in public health and for

the press in the tri-state area.

Fox has a particular mission for Red Hummingbird and does not aim

to grow too big. "We don’t anticipate earning big bucks and we

don’t want to become a big press," says Fox. "What we want

is to get books out there that make a social statement. We want to

draw attention to good books that could then be taken on by another

company with a capacity for wider distribution."

Red Hummingbird will work closely with its authors,

involving them in many pre-publication decisions regarding editing,

design, and marketing their books. They will also be invited to join

an authors’ council that will make recommendations about editorial

and publishing policies.

Author and Princeton resident Virginia Stuart, 89, has had a


career as the first woman editor of Princeton University Press and

as one of the first public relations directors for hospitals and


organizations. While raising three children and holding these jobs,

she also wrote fiction, and has had short stories published in


Harper’s, and other literary magazines.

The daughter of Danish immigrant parents, she was raised in Wisconsin.

She first became interested in the Danish rescue of the Jews when,

following the accounts of the Eichmann trial, she began research and


Stuart’s "Candle in a Dark Time," a work of historical


takes place in October, 1943, in Nazi-occupied Denmark. The plot


around four sisters who accidentally learn that their Jewish


are about to be rounded up and taken to concentration camps. This

is the 89-year-old Stuart’s first published novel. Its release


with the 60th anniversary of the rescue of most of Denmark’s 7,800


Is it anachronistic to launch a new press in an era of ever higher

technological innovation? "The 21st century may be a curious time

for a new press, but I’m optimistic," says Fox. "I still like

to curl up with a good book. We plan to be open minded about this

intriguing 21st century we’re in, but I still like a bound book most

of all."

— Nicole Plett

Red Hummingbird Press, Arts Council of Princeton,

102 Witherspoon Street, 609-924-8777.

Book party for "Candle in a Dark Time" by Virginia Stuart.

Free. Sunday, October 26, 4 to 6 p.m.

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