In celebration of Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart, the first fully-documented "memoir" of George Whitman's eccentric English-language bookstore on the Left Bank of the Seine, we present this video, directed by Lisa Paclet, from the store's archives - a tiny selection of the more than 30,000 artists and writers who have stayed at the store as "Tumbleweeds" over the last 65 years.
Editor Krista Halverson writes, "Over the years, millions of people have happened into Shakespeare and Company, finding new and antiquarian titles for purchase on the ground floor, and on the first floor discovering thousands of books in George's personal library. There visitors can read all day while reclining on cushioned benches, a cat curled up nearby, the opening notes of 'La valse d'Amélie" or Satie's 'Gymnopédies' drifting from the piano. At night, the benches transform into beds, where writers and artists are invited to sleep for free in exchange for helping out a few hours in the shop, writing a one-page autobiography, and promising to read a book a day. George named these guests 'Tumbleweeds' after the dry, rootless plants that roll across the American plains."
In addition to seven decades worth of archival photographs and a trove of rich ephemera (most of which has never been seen before) Shakespeare and Company, Paris contains original writing by dozens of former Tumbleweeds, famous, infamous and virtually unknown.