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Bed and Books for Aspiring Writers!

February 4th, 2011

Shakespeare And Company

If your writing is suffering writer’s block maybe being surrounded by thousands of books and actually sleeping with them will re-energise those creative juices.

No, I am not suggesting arranging to be locked into your local library, assuming it has not already been closed down by government cutbacks.

My beat the block suggestion is far more exotic and legal.

Sylvia Beach, an American, opened the original Shakespeare and Co in Paris in the early 1920s selling mainly English books, which attracted a very cosmopolitan clientele including many famous names of the day.

Despite surviving many difficult challenges, and publishing ‘Ulysses’ in 1922, she was forced to close down by the German occupation. No less a person than Earnest Hemingway was involved in her post war reopening.

Writer's book bed

By this time another American, George Whitman had arrived in Paris, and had opened The Great Mistral, a rather different kind of bookshop. Following Beach’s demise, he bought her stock and assumed the name Shakespeare and Co. in 1964. Since then he has not only amassed a huge collection of classics but also continued to trade and sell books.

What makes his shop unique is that he offers aspiring writers, who are down on their luck (i.e. broke) accommodation within the shop in exchange for them helping to run it and “to read a book a day.” The ‘resident’ writers sleep on benches, which during the day display books (see the photo) under George’s motto: “Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.” Many a volume has resulted from his generosity.

I recently visited this amazing establishment, located opposite Notre Dame, and spent a delightful morning amongst the books and general chaos. Incredibly, I discovered a rare volume written by Gerald Brenan, an early Expat in Spain (where I live) so I settled into a well-worn chair and passed anWriters Bureau community ethos hour soaking up the atmosphere before purchasing my new-found treasure.

Although not taking up temporary residence I still found it inspirational so why not see if you can also visit in the near future.

For more read ‘Books, Baguettes & Bedbugs’ by Jeremy Mercer who resided in Shakespeare’s around 10 years ago and visit Wikipedia for further information.

A final though, why not join The Writers Bureau community.

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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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