- Collection Overview
- Collection Description & Creator Information
- Access & Use
- Collection History
- Find Related Materials
- Beach, Sylvia
- Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
- Sylvia Beach Papers
- Manuscripts Division
- Permanent URL:
- 180 boxes, 1 object, and 78.3 linear feet
- Storage Note:
- This is stored in multiple locations. Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-158 Firestone Library (hsvm): Box 160-180
This collection documents the life and activities of Sylvia Beach (1887-1962), the American author, publisher, and owner of the Paris bookshop Shakespeare & Company, the Paris bookshop that was a meeting-point for French, English, Irish and American writers during the 1920's and 1930's. The collection consists largely of files relating to Shakespeare & Company; Beach's writings and translations, in particular her memoir Shakespeare & Company ; and files relating to the circle of artists and writers surrounding her throughout her life. Included are family, personal, and business correspondence; business records of Shakespeare & Company; personal and family records; manuscripts and artwork by members of her circle; photographs; and memorabilia.
Collection Description & Creator Information
This collection documents the life and activities of Sylvia Beach (1887-1962), the American author, publisher, and owner of Shakespeare & Company, the Paris bookshop that was a meeting-point for French, English, Irish and American writers during the 1920's and 1930's. The collection consists largely of files relating to Shakespeare & Company; Beach's writings and translations, in particular her memoir Shakespeare & Company ; and files relating to the circle of artists and writers surrounding her throughout her life. Included are family, personal, and business correspondence; business records of Shakespeare & Company; personal and family records; manuscripts and artwork by members of her circle; photographs; and memorabilia.
The rich correspondence series consists of correspondence from and to Sylvia Beach and includes artists such as Hilda Doolittle, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Robert McAlmon, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Allen Tate, Alice B. Toklas, Marianne Moore, Katherine Anne Porter, Richard Wright, George Antheil, Harriet Weaver, Gordon Craig, Arthur Symons, Ford Madox Ford, Frank Harris, Norman Douglas, Ivy Litvinoff, Richard Aldington, Stuart Gilbert, Cyril Connolly, D. H. Lawrence, Stephen Spender, Dorothy Richardson, to name but a few.
The collection also contains the files of Shakespeare & Company, Sylvia Beach's bookshop in Paris. Consisting largely of the shop's business records, the series notably contains the files of Shakespeare & Company's lending library, including member records and their readings. Of special interest is the material relating to Beach's publication of James Joyce, most importantly Joyce's Ulysses .
Also present is an extensive series of photographs documenting the different facets and relationships central to Beach's life, including family, friends, members of her artistic circle, and her life in Paris. They include snapshots as well as formal portraits, many of them captioned, and a number of them by noted photographers such as Gisèle Freund and Man Ray.
The collection further includes materials relating to Sylvia Beach's own writings and translations; artworks and literary manuscripts collected by her both for their artistic value and out of her interest in the artists; files relating to her personal life and files created by and relating to members of her family; and memorabilia.
Arranged into the following series: Series 1: Correspondence; Series 2: Shakespeare & Company; Series 3: Writings and Translations; Series 4: Personal Records; Series 5: Family Records; Series 6: Sylvia Beach's Circle and Collections; Series 7: Photographs; Series 8: Memorabilia
- Collection Creator Biography:
Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1887, Sylvia Beach was the second of three daughters of Eleanor Orbison Beach and the Reverend Sylvester Woodbridge Beach (Princeton Class of 1876), a pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Princeton. She is best known for running the bookstore and lending library Shakespeare & Company and for publishing James Joyce's Ulysses .
With the help of Adrienne Monnier, owner of the bookshop La Maison des Amis des Livres, Beach opened Shakespeare & Company at at 8, Rue Dupuytren in Paris in 1919 as a bookshop, lending library, and occasional publisher specializing in English and American literature. In 1922 the shop moved to 12, Rue de l'Odéon, across the street from Monnier's establishment, where it remained until its closing in 1940. During two decades, Shakespeare & Company served as a meeting point for expatriate writers and American visitors to Paris. Beach was interned for six months during World War II, but although she managed to keep her inventory hidden in a vacant apartment nearby, she did not re-open the shop after the war.
Sylvia Beach chronicled her experiences with Shakespeare & Company and life in Paris between the wars in a memoir of the same title, Shakespeare and Company , which was published in 1956. Towards the end of her life, she was widely honored for her publication of Ulysses and her support of aspiring writers during the 1920s. She remained in Paris until her death in 1962. Her ashes were buried in the Beach family plot in Princeton, NJ.
The collection, which had remained in Miss Beach's Paris apartment at 12, Rue de l'Odéon since her death there in October 1962, was acquired in 1964 from the Sylvia Beach estate, through the generosity of Graham D. Mattison, Princeton Class of 1926, and with the interest and support of Miss Beach's surviving sister, Mrs. Frederic J. (Holly Beach) Dennis of Greenwich, Connecticut.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
Individual items that were originally acquired as part of the Sylvia Beach Papers are now curated by the Graphic Arts division, including the Shakespeare & Company shop sign painted by Marie Monnier-Bécat; a portrait of Sylvia Beach in oil by Paul-Émile Bécat, signed, Paris, 1923; and a full-length portrait of Adrienne Monnier in oil by Paul-Émile Bécat, Paris 1921;
In addition, two items that remain part of the Sylvia Beach Papers are: an oak cabinet and a bust of William Shakespeare executed in colored Staffordshireware.
- Processing Information:
This collection was processed by Enid Adelson, Paul Koepp and Karla J. Vecchia in 2004.
Reprocessed by Regine Heberlein and Valerie Addonizio (photographs series) in 2012.
During 2012 processing, the collection (except for the photographs series) was re-arranged on the folder level. The existing distribution of materials in folders and their labels were largely preserved except where found to be wrong.
Folder inventory prepared by Nicholas Williams '2015 and Allyse Terrell '2014 in 2012.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
Access to the photographs is restricted. Surrogates (photocopies) of selected photographs are available for reference use. Researchers who feel they have a compelling reason to be granted access to the original photographs must request permission in advance from staff.
Original Hemingway is restricted. Surrogates are available for use.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.
- Credit this material:
Sylvia Beach Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Firestone LibraryOne Washington RoadPrinceton, NJ 08544, USA(609) 258-3184
- Publication Note:
"The Sylvia Beach Collection" by Howard C. Rice, Jr., The Princeton University Library Chronicle , Vol. XXVI, No. 1 (Autumn, 1964). pp. 7-15.
- Subject Terms:
- Authors and publishers -- France -- 20th century.
Authors, American -- France -- 20th century.
Authors, English -- France -- 20th century.
Authors, French -- 20th century.
Authors, Irish -- France -- 20th century.
Booksellers and bookselling -- France -- Paris -- 20th century -- Biography.
Bookstores -- France -- Paris -- 20th century.
Exiles' writings -- 20th century.
Novelists, American -- France -- 20th century.
Novelists, English -- France -- 20th century.
Novelists, Irish -- France -- 20th century.
Publishers and publishing -- France -- Paris -- 20th century.
World War, 1939-1945 -- France -- Paris.
- Genre Terms:
- Correspondence -- 20th century.
- Shakespeare and Company (Paris, France)
Joyce, James, 1882-1941
Joyce, James, 1882-1941
- Paris (France) -- History -- German occupation, 1940-1945.