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Rare Books

Rare Book Division
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Curator of Rare Books

Sylvia Beach was proprietor of Shakespeare and Company, the Paris bookshop which was a meeting-point for French, English, Irish and American writers during the 1920's and 1930's.

The separately arranged, classed and catalogued collection includes books and manuscripts by authors such as James Joyce, Gordon Craig, Arthur Symons, Ford Madox Ford, Frank Harris, Norman Douglas, Ivy Litvinov, Richard Aldington, Stuart Gilbert, Cyril Connolly, D.H. Lawrence, Stephen Spender, and Dorothy Richardson. Also French writers Adrienne Monnier, Valéry Larbaud, Léon-Paul Fargue, Jean Schlumberger, Paul Valéry, André Gide, Jules Romains, Jean Giono, André Chamson, Jean Prévost, and Henri Michaux. Many of the books are first editions and are inscribed to Sylvia Beach.

The collection also includes materials on James Joyce, particularly relating to his Shakespeare and Company publications of Ulysses and other writings. Ephemeral pamphlets, magazine publications of the above authors' works are also included in the collection. The collection includes 1615 catalogued volumes.

According to the Wilson Library Bulletin (January, 1965, p. 357), "in 1960, William S. Dix, university librarian, began negotiating with Miss Beach, ... to obtain her collection of manuscripts, inscribed editions, photos, sketches, and memorabilia. Last spring (i.e. spring, 1964), this material was transferred to the University from Miss Beach's Paris apartment where it had been stored since her death in 1962. ... The collection was acquired by the University through the generosity of Graham D. Mattison, and the cooperation of Miss Beach's surviving sister, Mrs. Frederic J.Dennis of Greenwich, Conn." See also the New York Times (Dec. 5, 1964, p. 26) for more details.

For particulars refer to: Howard C. Rice, "The Sylvia Beach Collection" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XXVI, 1 (Autumn, 1964) pp. 7-13 [ full text]. See also H.C. Rice's "The Sylvia Beach Collection" published in Manuscripts XVIII, 3 (Summer, 1966) pp. 3-8. (This article is a slightly abridged version of the 1964 Princeton University Library Chronicle article.)

See also the Sylvia Beach Papers [(MSS) C0108] and finding aid, which collection is substantially a complete personal archive of Beach. It consists primarily of general correspondence and materials related to the bookshop.

Several expatriate presses operating in France at the time of the beginning of the century are represented in this collection:


1. Black Sun Press: an extensive collection of the works published by Harry and Caresse Crosby in Paris. Originally known as the "Editions Narcisse," the press's second name was adopted in 1928.


2. Black Manikin Press: several volumes printed at this press in Paris during 1920 and 1930 are included. The press was founded by Edward W. Titus, who edited This Quarter after Ernest Walsh's death.

3. Three Mountains Press (Contact Editions): 33 titles with the imprint of the press. Within this group are titles by Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and others.

4. Story: a magazine devoted entirely to the short story and printed in Vienna and New York by Whit Burnett and Martha Foley from 1931-53. The hard-to-find mimeographed first number of v. 1 is in the Beach collection.


The catalogue of an exhibition held in Paris at Le Centre Culturel Américain has been checked against Princeton holdings. The exhibition was held before the death of Sylvia Beach, and she was, in fact, a major donor for the exhibition. Many of the volumes shown for the exhibition have in the meanwhile come to Princeton via the Beach collection: Les années vingt: les écrivains Américains à Paris et leurs amis. 1920-1930. Exposition du 11 Mars au 25 Avril 1959. (Copy marked with Library's holdings is [(ExB) 04703.247]).

See also: Noel Riley Fitch, Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation, A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties (New York, 1983) [(Ex) Z305.B33 F57 1983].