Shakespeare and Company (bookshop)

Shakespeare and Company is an independent bookstore located in the 5th arrondissement, in Paris's Left Bank. Shakespeare and Company serves as both a bookstore and a lending library, specializing in English-language literature. The upstairs also serves as a makeshift dormitory for travelers, known as "tumbleweeds," who earn their keep by working in the shop for a couple of hours each day. The current store is not to be confused with Sylvia Beach's original Shakespeare & Co., which was a meeting place for such luminaries as Joyce, Hemingway, Antheil, et al (The current store appropriated Beach's name upon the lady's death in 1962--not of her own volition). One suspects that the new store does, however, retain much of the same feel as Beach's original.

ylvia Beach years

The original bookstore's most famous proprietor was Sylvia Beach. It was located at 12 rue de l'Odéon and was open from 1919 to 1941 (the store of the same name is currently located at 37 rue de la Bûcherie). During this era, the store was considered to be a center of Anglo/American literary culture in Paris. The shop was often visited by artists of the "Lost Generation," such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, George Antheil, Man Ray and James Joyce. The contents of the store were considered high quality and reflected Beach's own literary taste. Shakespeare and Company, as well as its literary denizens, was repeatedly mentioned in Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast". Patrons could buy or borrow books like D. H. Lawrence's controversial "Lady Chatterley's Lover", which had been banned in England and the United States.


It was Beach who first published Joyce's book "Ulysses" in 1922. The book was subsequently banned in the United States and United Kingdom. The original Shakespeare and Company published several other editions of "Ulysses" under its imprint in later years.


The original Shakespeare and Company was closed in December 1941, due to the occupation of France by the Axis powers during World War II. Allegedly, the store was ordered shut because Beach denied a German officer the last copy of Joyce's "Finnegans Wake". The store at rue de l'Odéon never re-opened.

George Whitman Years

In 1951, another English-language bookstore was opened in Paris's Left Bank by American George Whitman, under the name of Le Mistral. Much like its predecessor (which was at a different location), the store served as a focal point for literary culture in Bohemian, Left Bank Paris. Upon Sylvia Beach's death, the store's name was changed to Shakespeare and Company. In the 1950s, the shop served as a base for many of the writers of the Beat Generation, such as Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and William Burroughs. Whitman's daughter, Sylvia, now runs the shop (see below). This store continues to operate at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, near Place St. Michel and steps from the Seine River.Regular activities that happen in the bookshop are Sunday Tea, Poetry readings and Writers meetings (informal & formal) []

ylvia Beach Whitman years

Whilst George hasn't passed away, day to day runnings have passed to his daughter, named after the first owner of Shakespeare and Company. []

Popular-culture allusions

*Shakespeare and Company is featured in the third season of "" as a bookstore in Paris operated by Watcher Don Salzer. In the fourth season, the Immortal Methos uses a hidden room in the bookstore's cellar as storage space for his ancient journals.Facts|date=June 2008
*Shakespeare and Company is featured in the opening scene of the movie "Before Sunset", where the protagonist Jesse Wallace is interviewed about his book.Facts|date=June 2008
*"Portrait of a Bookstore as an Old Man" is a one-hour documentary about the bookstore directed by Gonzague Pichelin and Benjamin title|title=Portrait of a Bookstore as an Old Man|id=0476588.]
*Jeremy Mercer's experiences at Shakespeare and Company are the subject of his memoir "Time Was Soft There" (US 2005, St. Martin's Press)/"Books, Baguettes & Bedbugs" (UK).
*Shakespeare and Company is seen in the movie "When Harry met Sally" (1989), but it is actually the bookshop located at 939 Lexington Ave. (69th Street), in New York City, not the bookshop in Paris.Facts|date=June 2008



*Affleck, John. [ "Hemingway at Shakespeare & Company"] . "Literary Traveler". Accessed June 13, 2008.
*Sharkey, Alix. [ "The Beats Go On"] . "The Observer", March 3, 2002. Accessed June 13, 2008.

External links

* [ Shakespeare and Company Official Site]
* [ "Shakespeare and Company"]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Shakespeare and Company — or Shakespeare Company may refer to:*Shakespeare and Company (bookshop), an English language bookshop in Paris, France; hosts the annual Shakespeare Company Literary Festival in June. *Shakespeare Company (Minnesota), a theatre company in White… …   Wikipedia

  • Media and Publishing — ▪ 2007 Introduction The Frankfurt Book Fair enjoyed a record number of exhibitors, and the distribution of free newspapers surged. TV broadcasters experimented with ways of engaging their audience via the Internet; mobile TV grew; magazine… …   Universalium

  • Gilbert and Sullivan — refers to the Victorian era partnership of librettist W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900). Together, they wrote fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which H.M.S. Pinafore , The Pirates of Penzance , and… …   Wikipedia

  • Independent bookstore — An Independent bookstore is a retail bookstore which is independently owned. [ [ American Booksellers Association] ] Literary and countercultural historyAuthor events at independent bookstores sometimes take the role… …   Wikipedia

  • List of World War II topics (S) — # S 1 Uranium Committee # S 50 # S mine # S Phone # S. A. Ayer # S. J. Warmington # S.L.A. Marshall # S.S. Doomtrooper # S.S. Pink Star # S?awomir Maciej Bittner # S?kichi Takagi # S?saku Suzuki # Søren Kam # Søren Petersen # S1 Scout Car # SA… …   Wikipedia

  • Sylvia Beach — Born March 14, 1887(1887 03 14) Baltimore, Maryland, United States Died October 5, 1962(1962 10 05) (aged 75) Paris, France Other names Nancy Woodbridge Beach …   Wikipedia

  • George Whitman — is the proprietor of the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in Paris, and was a contemporary of such Beat poets as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. He sometimes poses as a grandson or grand nephew of American poet Walt Whitman. Fact|date=April 2007… …   Wikipedia

  • Noël Riley Fitch — in Venice, Italy 2010 Born 1937 (age 73–74) New Haven, Connecticut, U.S. Occupation Writer Notable …   Wikipedia

  • Bookselling — Bookseller redirects here. For the British magazine, see The Bookseller. Bookmen redirects here. For other uses, see Bookman (disambiguation). Shakespeare and Company, an English language bookshop in Paris Bookselling is the commercial trading of …   Wikipedia

  • Beach, Sylvia — ▪ American bookstore owner in full  Sylvia Woodbridge Beach  born March 14, 1887, Baltimore, Md., U.S. died Oct. 5, 1962, Paris, France       bookshop operator who became important in the literary life of Paris, particularly in the 1920s, when… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.