Gertrude Stein. James Joyce. Ernest Hemingway. Emma Goldman. Aimé Césaire. Simone de Beauvoir. All were members of the Shakespeare and Company lending library.

In 1919, an American woman named Sylvia Beach opened an English-language bookshop and lending library in Paris. She called it Shakespeare and Company, and it quickly became the center of expatriate life in the city. In 1922, she published James Joyce’s Ulysses under the Shakespeare and Company imprint, changing the course of literary history.

The Shakespeare and Company Project uses documents from Beach's papers at Princeton University to illuminate the day-to-day operations of the lending library. Learn about the lending library's members, and discover the books they borrowed and where they lived. Read articles about how the lending library worked and its most popular authors.

Researchers can download the Project’s datasets, which provide a unique and vivid portrait of the development of modernism by detailing the demographics and reading practices of lending library members. An introduction to the datasets is available in the Journal of Cultural Analytics.

Shakespeare and Company remained a vital part of Paris life until 1941, when it closed during the German occupation of France. After the war, Beach loaned books from her apartment until her death in 1962. Princeton acquired Beach's papers in 1964, and the Shakespeare and Company Project launched in 2020.

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