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Marchant, Anyda [Sarah Aldridge] (1911-2006) and Muriel Inez Crawford (1914-2006)  
 
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Anyda Marchant and Muriel Inez Crawford were pioneering lesbian-feminist publishers who, in 1972 co-founded Naiad Press, the premier lesbian publishing house in the U.S. throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. They were life partners for almost 57 years.

They became same-sex lovers in 1948, in the heyday of McCarthyism, at a time when discrimination against gay men and lesbians was widespread and virulent.

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They necessarily remained closeted, each pursuing professional careers, Marchant as an attorney and Crawford as an executive secretary, until their retirement in 1972. Throughout the previous decade, Anyda Marchant had published under the pen name Sarah Aldridge short fiction and essays with lesbian themes in The Ladder, a newsletter of the lesbian organization The Daughters of Bilitis.

Upon retirement their pioneering publishing days began. Marchant and Crawford, along with Barbara Grier and Donna McBride, launched Naiad Press in 1973 and incorporated it in 1974. Naiad Press's first book was the first Sarah Aldridge novel, The Latecomer.

Naiad Press went on to be arguably the most successful lesbian publishing house in both the U.S. and Europe, ultimately publishing 11 Sarah Aldridge novels, and a myriad of books by some of the best known lesbian authors in the world.

Marchant served as President of Naiad Press from its inception until the mid-1990s. In 1995, Marchant and Crawford withdrew from Naiad Press to start A&M Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, which published three more Sarah Aldridge novels, as well as several new writers. Following their deaths, A&M Books continues in business under their hand-picked leadership.

Early Lives

Marchant was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 27, 1911. She moved with her family to Washington, D. C. at age six. Her birth name was Ann Nelson Yarbourough De Armond but, using her initials, she called herself Anyda.

After earning her undergraduate degree in 1931, followed in 1933 by her law degree from what is now George Washington University, she was admitted to the bar in Virginia and Washington, D. C., and before the U. S. Court of Claims and the U. S. Supreme Court. As a law student, she served for a year as assistant to women's rights pioneer Alice Paul, who was then doing research for an Equal Rights Amendment.

In 1940, she was appointed assistant in the Law Library of Congress in the Latin American Law section. When the man who was head of the Anglo-American Law Section was drafted, Marchant was appointed in his place. When he returned in 1945, she relinquished the post, but declined, on principle, the lesser position she was offered.

Marchant returned to Rio de Janeiro to work and then did a brief stint as a translator at the 1948 Pan American Union conference in Bogotá, Columbia. From there she went back to Washington as one of the first women attorneys for the law firm now known as Covington and Burling. She then served briefly with the U. S. Department of Commerce and in private practice before becoming an attorney in the Legal Department of the World Bank. She served the World Bank for 18 years until retiring in 1972.

Muriel Inez Crawford was born on April 21, 1914 in Washington, D. C., where she grew up and completed her schooling. Crawford served as an executive secretary at the Washington law firm of Covington and Burling, where she met Marchant, followed by a long-term position as executive secretary to the president of the Southern Railroad, now Amtrak.

It was at the Washington, D. C. law firm that the women caught each others' attention. Shortly after Thanksgiving 1948, Crawford asked Marchant, who was living in a rooming house at the time, to move into the house she shared with her aunt. Crawford was taking care of her elderly relative and Marchant joined her in the responsibility.

Naiad Press and A&M Books

The founding partners named Naiad Press in allusion to the figures from Greek mythology. Naiads were beautiful water nymphs and Naiad Press would allow lesbian feminist writers' words to flow.

With an initial investment of $2,000 from Marchant and Crawford, Naiad Press was officially launched on January 1, 1973, with the publication of The Latecomer a year later.

One of the first tasks Marchant and Crawford undertook for the new firm was the then difficult one of finding a printer willing to print lesbian-themed books. Although many of the editorial decisions were made in Kansas City by Grier and McBride, the finished books were shipped by the printers to Marchant and Crawford, who distributed them from their garage.

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Muriel Inez Crawford (left) and Anyda Marchant in 1992.
  
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