Created by Sylvia Beach in 1919, the Shakespeare and Company lending library was a bookshop located in Paris that not only lent out and published celebrated works of English literature, but also became the home for the writers and artists of the Lost Generation, including figures like Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce. The bookstore and lending library grew in fame after publishing Ulysses and supplying publications such as Moby Dick and issues of The New Yorker to French intellectuals in the 1920s and 30s.
Today, Princeton’s Shakespeare and Company Project relies on documents from the University’s Sylvia Beach Papers to recreate the world of the Lost Generation. Founded in 2014 by Joshua Kotin, Jesse McCarthy, and Clifford Wulfman, the digital humanities initiative allows users to explore Shakespeare and Company’s lending library membership, track the circulation of books, and discover what members of the library read. Such data is available for download, and the project encourages researchers to make use of such datasets to offer new scholarship.
You can learn more about the history of the original Shakespeare and Company, as well as explore the project’s data analysis, here.