Sylvia Beach was born on March 14, 1887 in America. She studied French Literature at the Sorbonne in 1917, discovered a bookshop La Maison des Amis des Livres and fell in love with its proprietor Adrienne Monnier and lived with her for the rest of her life, apart from when she was interned during WWII.
Sylvia opened her own bookshop in 1919, the famous Shakespeare and Company. Two years later she moved premises so that her shop was opposite Adrienne’s.
Sylvia’s paid for James Joyce’s novel Ulysses to be published, but when he got a contract from Random House, he forgot all about her.
During the 30’s the shop struggled and friends helped Sylvia out with subscriptions and benefit readings. In 1937, Sylvia was awarded a Knight of the Legion of Honor.
Sylvia stayed in Paris during the war. She was constantly threatened by the Gestapo, and eventually she packed all the books up and hid them in her apartment. In September 1942 she was interned, first at the Paris Zoo, and then at Vittel. She was eventually released, but after the war the bookshop did not reopen. Sylvia stayed in Paris until her death in 1962.
Sylvia definitely gets an invitation to the party, we could talk books til the morning…