Wednesday 22 November 2017

Literary legend rejoins pantheon

The owner of famous Paris bookstore Shakespeare and Company has died, marking the end of an era, writes Julia Molony

Julia Molony

For more than a century, Anglophone writers in search of inspiration have flocked to Paris. And since the Fifties their first port of call has usually been Shakespeare and Company, the bookstore and cultural institution at the centre of contemporary English literatures's long-standing love affair with the city of lights.

A shop-come-lending-library-come-boarding-house, it is overlooked by Notre Dame and sits on the banks of the Seine. Its floor-to-ceiling shelves are piled high with English-language volumes, and it has barely changed in the 60 years since it opened.

Last Wednesday, the shop's founder and owner George Whitman passed away at 98. Much more than just a book seller, he was a celebrity in literary circles.

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