I think every writer has a Parisian fantasy that revolves around Shakespeare and Company. Opposite of Notre-Dame in the heart of Paris, there is no greater setting. Adding to the romance, this is the bookstore where James Baldwin hung out, where William Burroughs researched medical books for Naked Lunch, where Anaïs Nin drank Bordeaux straight out of the bottle, where Ernest Hemingway often showed up drunk, and where Allen Ginsberg howled naked.
Those were among the thousands of writers invited to stay rent-free in the bookshop. It was the vision of the original owner to nurture and house literary vagabonds, known as Tumbleweeds. But after half a decade of sheltering the creative community, Shakespeare and Company was on the brink of losing its own home due to the pandemic.
Luckily, Parisians and bibliophiles from around the world heeded the distress call the bookstore sent out in May and have come to the bookstore’s rescue by overwhelming their online store.
“We have had to temporarily close our online bookstore until we can catch up with orders and correspondence. We anticipate it reopening December 1.“
The store has also re-instated the annual membership program called, “Friends of Shakespeare and Company.” This was something that came about during The Great Depression, where in exchange for an annual fee, participants were invited to members-only readings with T. S. Eliot, André Gide, Paul Valéry, and even Ernest Hemingway, who made an exception to his rule against public events.
This time around the perks are virtual—a mix of video, audio, and new writing—for the fee of 45€ for the year. They also offer higher-fee memberships, which include an online book club and an autographed hardback. You can support Shakespeare and Company, here.