“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, late March, 1922, Shakespeare and Company, 12 rue de l’Odeon, Paris; 31 Nassau Street, New York City, New York; and 311 Chatham Street, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

At the Shakespeare and Company bookstore on rue de l’Odeon, the American owner Sylvia Beach, 35, is sending out copies of the new novel Ulysses, by Irish ex-pat James Joyce, 40, which she published last month.

Sylvia is able to fill orders from countries all over the world—except the United States.

Because excerpts from the novel, which appeared in The Little Review there a few years ago, were determined to be obscene by a New York state court, U. S. Customs officials are on alert.

Oh, she has plenty of orders. One of the largest—25 copies—is from the Washington Square Bookshop in Greenwich Village, where The Little Review was first confiscated.

Washington Square Bookshop stationery

Sylvia is determined. One of Joyce’s many benefactors, Irish-American attorney John Quinn, 52, who unsuccessfully argued the case for the Ulysses excerpts in court, has suggested smuggling copies in to some northern city from Canada. Sylvia asked one of the young American would-be novelists who frequent her store, Ernest Hemingway, 22, if he knew anyone back home in Chicago who could help. The next day he gave Sylvia contact details of a friend and Sylvia shot off a letter to him.

But that was in the beginning of February. She didn’t hear anything until last week when he sent a brief telegram: 



with a Canadian address.

Not very promising.

Sylvia is thinking of giving up on Hemingway’s friend and exploring one of Quinn’s contacts, a good friend of his, Mitchell Kennerley, 43, who has a successful Park Avenue auction house. Kennerley imports books and other items from the UK all the time. Quinn says Mitch is personal friends with the captain of a transatlantic liner who could bring Ulysses over from London, slowly, in batches of 25 or 30 copies per month.

That might be the best option.


In his law office, John Quinn is catching up on his correspondence. He is updating Sylvia Beach on the fate of Ulysses in New York. Copies have started to appear in bookshops here. One of his favorites, Drake’s on 40th Street, is selling her $12 non-deluxe copies for $20; Brentano’s for $35, even $50.

Brentano’s logo

How did they get a hold of the books?! Traveling Americans might have brought them back in their luggage. But Quinn advises Sylvia that the authorities will soon start confiscating any that they find. Some returning tourists have already had their copies destroyed at the Port of New York.

Quinn is willing to make an arrangement with Kennerley.

Beach would have to ship the books in large quantities from Paris to London. They would enter the U. S. as freight, so customs would probably overlook them; they are more intent these days on catching bootleggers. Even if the books were found, they would probably be returned to London rather than burned.

Kennerley would collect the cash from the American buyers, have the copies delivered by private carriers—thereby avoiding sending “obscene” material through the mail—and pass the profits on to Sylvia. Retaining a commission of 10% of the retail price.

Quinn emphasizes to her that Kennerley is willing to break the law and, if he were arrested,

There wouldn’t be a ghost of a shade of a shadow of a chance of acquitting Kennerly.”

In fact, Quinn tells her, hold on to the 14 copies he ordered for now, until he comes up with a definitive plan to receive them.


In Windsor, Ontario, Barnet Braverman, 34, is wondering why he hasn’t heard anything from that American woman in Paris who wants him to smuggle books across the border.

When her initial letter finally caught up to him a week or so ago—he had moved from Chicago to Toronto and is now packing to move to Detroit—he was intrigued.

Miss Beach said a mutual friend had recommended him and that she needs to get copies of James Joyce’s new novel, Ulysses, to Americans—particularly New York publishers like Knopf and Huebsch who are too yellow to publish it themselves.

Braverman really wants to have a part in sticking it to the publishing establishment. His new ad agency job here in Windsor means he will be taking a short boat ride from and to Detroit across Lake St. Clair every day as part of his commute.

The Detroit and Windsor Ferry

Barnet is thinking he should write Miss Beach a detailed letter so she knows how eager he is to help out.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and also in print and e-book formats on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

In June I will be talking about the Stein family salons in Paris before and after the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

2 thoughts on ““Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago, late March, 1922, Shakespeare and Company, 12 rue de l’Odeon, Paris; 31 Nassau Street, New York City, New York; and 311 Chatham Street, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

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