Shakespeare and Company Bookshop (1919-1941)

Sylvia Beach’s tireless efforts to publish one of the world’s most famous books, and running what would become one of the world’s most famous bookstores, grew out of her appreciation for literature as well as people. The daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Sylvia Beach was born in 1887 and grew up in Princeton, NJ. She became a sole-proprietor of the bookstore Shakespeare and Company she founded in 1919 with a lump sum of money provided by her mother Eleanor Beach to get started. Her goal was to provide English-language literature to the reading public in France. Beach offered her customers a place to meet and enjoy the company of others who wrote and a place to discuss modern literature.

Inspired by Left Bank Bookseller (Short Film 2012)

Left Bank seeks to reveal the true story of the unsung women behind a literary giant and their role in early 20th Century feminist activism. Left Bank is based on 10 years of research by writer Lisa Reznik. Her short narrative film Left Bank Bookseller, about the courage of American bookseller Sylvia Beach to publish Ulysses in France, has been screened around the world. Reznik’s passion for the subject matter inspired the vision for a deeper telling of the story as a hybrid feature documentary.

James Joyce’s modernist masterpiece Ulysses was explosive in its impact on the literary world of the early 20th century. Through interviews, reenactments, and archival footage Left Bank transports viewers to the fraught world in which the novel was conceived, unveiling the story of the visionary women who, in spite of fines and possible jail terms, wholeheartedly supported the literary giant’s odyssey.

 In Left Bank, we delve into the rich and complex collaborative efforts of pioneering women who played instrumental roles in shaping and publishing James Joyce's groundbreaking work, Ulysses. 

These women include Harriet Shaw Weaver in London, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap in New York, and Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier in Paris. Each of them, individually and collectively, made the publication of Ulysses as we know it today possible. 

Left Bank also pays homage to Nora Barnacle, James Joyce's lifelong muse and eventual wife, who significantly influenced the couple's candid exploration of erotic themes in his work.

Left Bank endorsement by Andrea Weiss.
"It's really important that the amazing women who made Ulysses are remembered, it wouldn't have been made without them. We need to celebrate them!"

-Andrea Weiss, Filmmaker & Author, Paris Was a Woman

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