Shakespeare and Company is an independent bookstore located in the Latin Quarter which for centuries has been the center of Parisian creativity and intelligentsia.
Originally established in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, in the 1920s the bookstore was a gathering place for writers such as Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, William S. Burroughs, James Joyce and Ford Madox Ford. Shakespeare and Company serves as both a bookstore and a reading library, specializing in English-language literature. The current store is named after and in honor, of the earlier store which closed during World War II.
In 1951, another English-language bookstore was opened in Paris’s Left Bank by an American George Whitman, under the name of Le Mistral. Much like the original Shakespeare and Company, the bookstore served as a focal point for literary culture in Bohemian, Left Bank Paris. The bookstore’s name was then changed to Shakespeare and Company.
George Whitman calls the bookstore “a socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore”. Since 1951, the bookstore has stubbornly kept its utopian ideals in a changing world. Many who knew the store back in their youth return as adults to find an institution that has not been altered by the passing years.
George Whitman’s daughter, Sylvia, now runs the shop. The store continues to operate at rue de la Bûcherie, near Place St. Michel and steps from the Seine River and Notre Dame and the Île de la Cité.
Regular events that are ongoing in the bookstore are Sunday tea, poetry readings and writers’ meetings.