The Shakespeare and Company Lending Library Project

Recreating the world of the Lost Generation in interwar Paris.

  • Project Director

  • Joshua I. Kotin
  • Project Manager

  • Elspeth A. Green
  • Technical Lead

  • Rebecca Sutton Koeser
  • Project Designer

  • Rebecca Munson
  • User Experience Designer

  • Xinyi Li
  • Web Developer

  • Benjamin Hicks
  • Database Designer

  • Jean Bauer
  • Advisor

  • Moacir P. de Sá Pereira
  • Researcher

  • Oliver J. Browne
  • Ian Davis
  • Madeleine E. Joelson
  • Cate L. Mahoney
  • Project Alums

  • Clifford E. Wulfman
  • Jesse D. McCarthy
  • Harriet Calver
  • Mary K. Naydan
  • Jin Chow
  • Carl Adair
  • Claude Willan

In 1919, an American named Sylvia Beach opened a bookshop and lending library in Paris. She called it Shakespeare and Company, and it quickly became the meeting place of the Lost Generation—the community of writers and artists that included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein, among many others.

The Shakespeare and Company Lending Library Project is a digital humanities initiative at Princeton University that uses Beach’s archives to recreate the world of the Lost Generation. The project tracks the membership of the Shakespeare and Company lending library to reveal what its members read and where they lived. The project also captures how the Anglophone expatriate community in Paris changed from the end of World War I to the German Occupation of France, and the community’s connections to French writers and artists—including André Gide, Simone de Beauvoir, and Jacques Lacan—who used the library.

In phase I (2015–2016), the project focused on encoding logbooks with every library membership and renewal, and lending library cards with the addresses and borrowing histories of library members. During this phase, the project also developed a personography of library members. In phase II (2016–2017), the project focused on refining the encoding from phase I and extending the personography. This year, in phase III, the project is developing a new interactive website that will allow the public to explore the borrowing practices of library members and track the circulation of books.

An early overview of the project is available at mep.princeton.edu. The project was founded by Joshua Kotin, Jesse McCarthy, and Clifford Wulfman in 2014.