Sylvia Beach

Publisher / Writer
Date Of Birth:
14 March 1887
Date Of Death:
5 October 1962
Place Of Birth:
Baltimore, Maryland
Best Known As:
The Paris bookstore owner who published 'Ulysses'

Name at birth: Macy Woodbridge Beach

Sylvia Beach was an American in Paris whose bookshop was a beacon for the literary elite of the period between World War I and World War II. She famously published James Joyce's Ulysses, when nobody else would touch it. Raised in Maryland and New Jersey, she moved with her family to France in 1901, when her father, a Presbyterian minister, was assigned to a church in Paris. During her adolescence, she lived in France, Spain and New Jersey. After working with the Red Cross in the Baltic region, Beach found herself in Paris, where she befriended Adrienne Monnier, owner of a bookstore and lending library. The two became lifelong partners, and Beach opened her own bookshop in 1919. The shop, Shakespeare and Company, became a gathering place for American expatriates such as Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, as well as French intellectuals such as André Gide. And Sylvia Beach put up the money to publish Ulysses in 1921, despite its reputation for being "obscene." (Later, when Joyce found a more commercially successful publisher, he abandoned Beach.) During the German occupation of Paris, Beach closed her bookstore in 1941 and never reopened. She published a memoir in 1956 and died in Paris in 1962.
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