One of Paris’ top literary landmarks, Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookstore in the Latin Quarter opened in 1951 by George Whitman. It was named after a bookstore founded in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, famous for hosting luminaries including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein.
An important Paris literary destination, Shakespeare and Company was started by former American serviceman George Whitman as Le Mistral bookstore in 1951. He renamed it Shakespeare and Company in 1964 in honor of the shop opened by American expat Sylvia Beach in 1919, which was celebrated as a meeting place for Lost Generation legends such as F. Scott Fitzgerald as well as Man Ray, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein before it closed in World War II.
Whitman’s shop continued Beach’s tradition, hosting luminaries such as Allen Ginsberg, James Baldwin, Anaïs Nin, and editors of The Paris Review. Today, Shakespeare and Company remains a highlight destination for readers and writers alike. The bookstore is a popular stop on literary walking tours, and is a frequent highlight of Latin Quarter itineraries.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Shakespeare and Company hosts several beds, where aspiring writers can sleep for free if they help in the shop; upwards of 30,000 visitors are said to have slept there.
- The bookstore maintains a cafe, opened in the space next door in 2015; it serves mainly vegetarian food.
- Shakespeare and Company is managed by George Whitman’s daughter, Sylvia Whitman.
How to Get There
Located within view of Nôtre-Dame and the Seine, the centrally located Shakespeare and Company is easily accessed by Métro (take line 4 to Saint-Michel) or RER (take lines B or C to Saint-Michel – Nôtre-Dame). The shop can also be reached by the 27 and 47 bus lines, by rental bike, car or taxi, or foot.
When to Get There
Shakespeare and Company is open daily, as is its next-door cafe. The bookstore hosts workshops, author readings, and other events; check its calendar before your visit.
Shakespeare and Company’s Publications
The original Shakespeare and Company made history in 1922 when it was the first to publish James Joyce’s magnum opus, Ulysses. Beach’s shop also published Ernest Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems, in 1923. More recently, the Whitman-founded bookstore released Shakespeare and Company, Paris, a wide-ranging account of its history in 2016.