||Maurice Saillet (1914-1990) first met Sylvia Beach in the 1930s when
he was employed at Adrienne Monnier's La Maison des Amis des Livres. Saillet
and Beach soon became friends and remained close until her death in 1962. Due
to his interest in modern French literature Saillet wrote or edited several
works in the postwar period featuring Monnier, Beach, Valéry
Larbaud, the comte de Lautréamont, and others.
||Sylvia Beach was born 14 March 1887 into the family of a Presbyterian
minister in Baltimore. Growing up in a home of modest means but considerable
learning, Sylvia was early attracted to French culture as the result of her
father's 1901 call to the student ministry in Paris. The Beach family's
extended residence in Paris confirmed Sylvia's desire to live there, and in
1916 she moved to France permanently.
||In 1918 Sylvia Beach met her lifelong friend Adrienne Monnier, and,
following Mlle. Monnier's example, in late 1919 Beach opened Shakespeare and
Company, a bookstore and lending library specializing in Anglo-American
literature. The timing of Beach's venture--coming as it did just as the
"lost generation" discovered Paris--made
Shakespeare and Company a central feature of the Parisian literary scene of the
||In addition to her capacity for hard work, Sylvia Beach had the genius
for making and keeping friends. Her developing friendship with James Joyce led
to her becoming the first publisher of
Ulysses in 1922. As
publisher, confidant, and friend Beach assisted Joyce personally and
financially throughout the 1920s.
||Shakespeare and Company struggled--as did many businesses--during the
1930s and finally succumbed to the German occupation of Paris after 1940.
Having survived six months' internment and the other rigors of a second world
war Sylvia Beach became in the 1950s an embodiment of and voice for the
literary and cultural Paris of the 1920s. In 1959 her Joyce collection went to
the University of Buffalo; in that same year she was the focus of the
"Les Années vingt,"
sponsored by the American embassy. Sylvia Beach died in her sleep the night of
5-6 October 1962.