Shakespeare and Company


Along with the books and papers that came to Princeton University in 1964 from Sylvia Beach’s Paris bookshop, Shakespeare and Company, was the signboard that hung outside the shop’s front door. With a brightly colored enamel portrait of William Shakespeare on one side and the bookstore’s name on the other, this heavy steel sign became the icon for the shop until it closed in 1941.

Princeton’s is the third of three signs commissioned for the shop, this one painted by Marie Monnier-Bécat (1894-1976), the wife of the artist Paul-Émile Bécat (1885-1960) and sister of Sylvia Beach’s partner Adrienne Monnier (1892-1955).

Beach wrote, “Charles Winzer, a Polish-English friend of Adrienne’s, made the signboard, a portrait of Shakespeare, to be hung outside. Adrienne didn’t approve of the idea, but I wanted it anyway. The signboard hung from a bar above the door. I took it down at night. Once, I forgot it, and it was stolen. Winzer made another, which also disappeared. Adrienne’s sister made a third one, a rather French-looking Shakespeare, which I still have.” - Sylvia Beach (1887-1962), Shakespeare and Company (ExB 0350.854.15)

See Steve Ferguson’s rare book blog for more information:

And here is a video of Beach talking about her life in Princeton and then, in Paris:!v=1129703=