Today, along the banks of the Seine, on a tiny street called Rue de la Bûcherie, sits a literary institution: Shakespeare and Company.
In more historical times, the original bookstore by this name occupied a different spot from 1921 until the Nazi invasion of Paris. This creative haven was owned and operated by Sylvia Beach, supporter for the arts and artists of The Lost Generation. She encouraged Hemingway and Picasso, just to name a few, and also published James Joyce’s Ulysses, at a great personal expense to her financial funds.
In 1952, American George Whitman opened an English speaking bookstore along the Seine, catty-cornered from the Notre Dame Cathedral on the opposite side of the river. In honor of Sylvia Beach, he used her bookstore’s name…and, years later, named his newborn daughter Sylvia, too.
As a young lad, George Whitman backpacked over Central and South America long before the activity was as popular as it is now. He was deeply impressed by natives who opened their homes to him, giving him a dry, warm spot to sleep and a nourishing meal. After opening his bookstore, he started the same tradition. Over the years, he provided lodging (a cot stuck in an out of the way spot) and free meals to struggling artists and writers. In return they had to read a book a day and work two hours in the store. It’s reported he helped over 40,000 would-be authors, poets and artists before he died at the age of 91. He called these guests “tumbleweeds.”
Today, his daughter runs the bookstore, carrying on her father’s legacy. Shakespeare and Company is known worldwide. And I’m proud to say Second Wind has a tiny spot there. My PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS is now part of their inventory and is also included in their lending library on the second floor. My book. like all those purchased at this Paris institution, will bear the famous stamp of this bookstore visited by travelers from across the globe.