Shakespeare & Company: A Landmark of American Literary Culture in Paris

“I may disappear leaving behind me no worldly possessions – just a few old socks and love letters, and my windows overlooking Notre-Dame for all of you to enjoy, and my little rag and bone shop.” These words were said by George Whitman, and the “little rag and bone shop” he describes is Shakespeare & Company: a ubiquitous landmark in literary culture, a regular home for aspiring and established writers, and a totem of 20th century history peppered with intriguing tales involving war, eccentric artists, and bohemian utopia. Less a bookstore and more a bastion of cultural community, Shakespeare & Company has been a far-reaching, resounding name for locals and travelers to Paris alike for nearly a hundred years.

Currently located on Rue de la Bûcherie, the windows didn’t always overlook Notre-Dame. The original Shakespeare & Co. was set up in 1919 on Rue Dupuytren (6th arrondissement) by an American expatriate named Sylvia Beach. During the Roaring Twenties, Paris was bursting with a vibrancy that allowed artists to flourish, giving birth to new artistic visions such as Surrealism and Dadaism. In the midst of


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