Founder of the Left Bank bookstore Shakespeare and Company and the first publisher of James Joyce's Ulysses, Sylvia Beach had a legendary facility for nurturing literary talent. In this first collection of her letters, we witness Beach's day-to-day dealings as bookseller and publisher to expatriate Paris. Friends and clients include Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, H. D., Ezra Pound, Janet Flanner, William Carlos Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Richard Wright. As librarian, publicist, publisher, and translator, Beach carved out a unique space for herself in English and French letters. This collection reveals Beach's charm and resourcefulness, sharing her negotiations with Marianne Moore to place Joyce's work in The Dial; her battle to curb the piracy of Ulysses in the United States; her struggle to keep Shakespeare and Company afloat during the Depression; and her complicated affair with the French bookstore owner Adrienne Monnier. These letters also recount Beach's childhood in New Jersey; her work in Serbia with the American Red Cross; her internment in a German prison camp; and her friendship with a new generation of expatriates in the 1950s and 1960s.
Beach was the consummate American in Paris and a tireless champion of the avant-garde. Her warmth and wit made the Rue de l'Odeon the heart of modernist Paris.
Keri Walsh is assistant professor of English at Fordham University in New York.