Sunday, 17 June 2012
Sylvia Beach (March 14, 1887 - October 5, 1962), born Nancy Woodbridge Beach, was an American-born bookseller and publisher who lived most of her life in Paris, where she was one of the leading expatriate figures between World War I and II. (Read more on Wikipedia).
Beach opened an English language bookstore and lending library that she named Shakespeare and Company. Beach's bookstore was located at 8 rue Dupuytren in the 6th arrondissement of Paris.
Shakespeare and Company quickly attracted both French and American readers - including a number of aspiring writers to whom Beach offered hospitality and encouragement as well as books. In May 1921, Shakespeare and Company moved to 12 rue de l'Odéon. Shakespeare and Company gained considerable fame after it published James Joyce's Ulysses in 1922, as a result of Joyce's inability to get an edition out in English-speaking countries.
Lowry and Jan regularly visited Shakespeare and Company while they were living in Paris in 1934. (Gordon Bowker Pursued By Furies Pg. 175). A letter that Lowry wrote to Sylvia Beach in June 1934 has survived in which Lowry apologises for not paying for a book. (Collected Letters Volume 1 Letter 63).
Jan also recalled that Lowry turned down an opportunity to meet Joyce when they saw a poster in the bookshop claiming Joyce would be at a meeting of Les Amis de 1914 to be held on 23rd February 1934. Lowry believed the claim on the poster to be "unfounded and prepostrous." ( Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg. 55).