Located on the banks of the river Seine, Shakespeare and Company bookstore has been one of favorite places of famous writers such as James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford and Ezra Pound. Besides, the store used to appear in the well-known movie Midnight in Paris of the celebrated director Woody Allen.
The bookstore was initially inaugurated at 8 Dupuytren Street on 17th November, 1919 by Syvia Beach – an American from New Jersey. It operated as a library as well as a bookstore.
2 years later, the bookstore moved to 12 L’Odeon Street for a larger space. During that period, it almost became a separated cultural area for the Anglo-American because it only sold and lended English books.
With an elegant style, the Shakespeare and Company was considered as a paradise to the artists of “Lost Generation”.
Famous writers, from Ernest Hemingway (author of ‘The Old Man and the Sea’), Ezra Pound to F.Scott Fitzgerald (author of ‘The Great Gatsby’) and Gertrude Stein, usually came here to read, write or paint.
The Irish writer James Joyce even used the bookstore as his office. He called it by nickname “Stratford-on-Odeon”.
Books at Shakespeare and Company are always kept in the best quality and selected to sell with a special style. Especially, the visitors can borrow or buy the banned books such as DH Lawrence’s controversial, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Ulysses, ect.
The store was closed in 1940 because of the German invasion of France in the World War II. Afterwards, it was never opened until 1951, George Whitman – an American decided to create a bookstore which had the same style.
Although it was not the original store, this ‘George Whitman version’ still attracted a variety of famous writers in this period such as Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg and William S.Buroughs. Moreover, the store was honored on a lot of newspapers as ‘the world’s most beautiful bookshop’, ‘the world’s most photographed bookstore’…
Visiting the Shakespeare and Company, the travellers will be surprised by its 13 beds for readers’ comfort. According to George Whitman, at least 40,000 people used to sleep here.
Besides, there is a small hole with the words “Feed the starving writers” in the bookshop, aiming to invite donations from the readers as well as book buyers for potential writers.
After the dead of the enthusiastic owner George Whitman in 2011, the Shakespeare and Company is continued to operate under the management of his daughter – Syvia Beach Whitman.
The new owner still allows young writers to read, write and even sleep at the bookshop. Additionally, she coupled with other writers like Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt to organize a festival of borrowing books named FestivalandCo.