When traveling to a new destination I always try to learn the history of its most popular spots. Then, I find it more magical to visit a place whose history I am already familiar with. Let’s learn some history today.
Shakespeare & Company Bookstore in Paris is located at 37, rue de la Bucherie, 75005 Paris, France. It is located facing the Seine river, with an open side view of Notre Dame. Can’t miss it!
The original (not this one) Shakespeare & Company Bookstore was opened by Sylvia Beach back in 1919 in Rue de l’Odeon, 12. The bookstore got really popular for being very welcoming and supportive. Hemingway and Fitzgerald are just a few of the long list of artists that hung out at the store. It also served as a publisher, Sylvia took risks to support local and American authors publishing their works, as She did with Joyce’s Ulysses. The store remained opened until 1941 when the German occupation of Paris took place and a Nazi officer closed her store after She refused to sell her books to him. The officer not only closed her store but also sent her to an internment camp in Vittel. The bookstore never reopened.
The American George Whitman opened ‘Le Mistral” in 1951 across de Seine river from Notre Dame, and after Sylvia Beach pass away in 1962, He changed the name of his bookstore to ‘Shakespeare and Company’ in honor to Sylvia whose work and spirit he admired.
The bookstore was more than a business, it was a community. From the start, Whitman invited writers and artists to stay at the store and that’s how Tumbleweeds was created. artists were, and still are, welcome to stay at the store at no charge, with the only duty to read a book a day, help around the store for a couple of hours a day and write a one-page autobiography for Whitman’s collection. These pages are exposed at the store.
Close to his death, Whitman put his daughter Sylvia (named in honor of Sylvia Beach) in charge of the Bookstore. Sylvia introduced annual literacy festivals organized by the store and later on, she created the Paris Literacy Prize, a contest for new unpublished artists.
“My father called the store ‘a socialist utopia masqueraded as a bookstore'” -Sylvia Whitman.
Photo credit: @dreams_in_paris
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