On This Day In Literary History~

March 14, 1887

Sylvia Beach, bookstore owner and publisher of Ulysses, is born

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Sylvia Beach, owner of the Paris-based bookstore Shakespeare and Co., is born in Baltimore. Beach moved to Paris at the age of 14, when her father, a Presbyterian minister, was sent to France. She fell in love with the city. In 1919, she opened her bookstore, Shakespeare and Co., which became a gathering place for American writers in Paris in the 1920s, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

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Beach was a strong supporter of writer James Joyce, who lived in Paris from 1920 to 1940. The Irish writer had achieved fame with his 1915 novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and had started publishing his masterwork Ulysses in serial form in an American magazine called the Little Review. However, the serialization was halted in December 1920, after the U.S. Post Office brought a charge of obscenity against Joyce’s work. Beach published the book herself in July 1922. It wasn’t until 1933 that a U.S. judge permitted Ulysses to be distributed in the U.S.

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