Sylvia Beach born March 14, 1887 - died October 5, 1962 was born Nancy Woodbridge Beach in Bridgeton, New Jersey, and became one of the leading expatriate figures in inter-war Paris.
Her father was a Presbyterian pastor and his work took the family to Paris in 1901. Beach loved Paris, and went to live there permanently in 1916 after war work nursing. With her friend Adrienne Monnier she founded a bookshop, Shakespeare and Company, in November 1919, which became a focus for Americans. The bookshop became famous after it published James Joyce's Ulysses in 1922, as a result of Joyce's inability to get an edition out in English-speaking countries.
The bookshop was in difficulties throughout the depression of the 1930s, and was kept afloat by the generosity of her circle of friends, including Bryher. She was interned during World War II. The shop was symbolically liberated by Ernest Hemingway in person in 1944 but never re-opened.
A new bookshop founded in the 1950s by American W. Whitman (no relations to the poet) was granted permission by Sylvia Beach to use the name "Shakespeare & Company". It had a rocky history. Whitman did neither register nor pay taxes for many years. He was - like many other artists in trouble with Internal Revenue - saved by André Malraux.
In 1956 she wrote a memoir of the inter-war years, titled Shakespeare and Company, which is a must-read for anyone interested in the cultural life in Paris at the time. Contains excellent first-hand observations of D.H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Valery Larbaud, Thornton Wilder, André Gide, Leon-Paul Fargue, George Antheil, Robert McAlmon, Gertrude Stein, Stephen Benet, Aleicester Crowley, John Quinn, Berenice Abbott, Man Ray, and many others. She remained in Paris until her death.
Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties and Thirties by Noel Riley Fitch ISBN 0393017133