|Sylvia Beach and Ernest Hemingway in front of |
Shakespeare and Company, circa 1928
In 1951, George Whitman opened his own bookshop on Paris's Left Bank, and after a few years he renamed it Shakespeare and Co. in honor of Beach; it's been open ever since. Whitman also named his daughter after Beach: Sylvia Beach Whitman took over Shakespeare and Co. in 2004 and continues to run the shop today. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, first, because Sylvia Beach rocks. Secondly, because the shop's motto: "Be Not Inhospitable to Strangers Lest They Be Angels in Disguise" is one we all could stand to remember in this day and age. And last but not least, because Beach and her shop have been back in the literary news of late with the publication of a new volume dedicated to the history of Shakespeare & Co! Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart dropped on September 26, and contains dozens of essays, poems, interviews, and illustrations that together reportedly create an extraordinary collage of the life and times of literary Paris over the last century. I can't wait to get my hands on it. If you don't have the money for a hardback, here's a little history of Beach and her shop. I also highly recommend Beach's memoir, Shakespeare and Company, and Noel Riley Fitch's beautiful work, Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties, which has been close to my heart and next to my bed for the last 20 years.