Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & Company, A Mecca for Contemporary Literature

by Virginie Raguenaud

When the French bookshop La Maison des Amis des Livres opened its doors on November 15, 1915, at 7 rue de l'Odeon on the Left Bank in Paris, its 23-year-old owner Adrienne Monnier had the modest goal of wanting to share her love of literature with the public. It was the first free-lending library in France, which enabled Monnier to reach people from all walks of life and turn them into readers. The small bookshop-library invited readers to browse through books spilling from the shelves propped against the walls, sit in one of the antique chairs scattered around a large...

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