“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, September 22, 1921, Shakespeare and Company, 12 rue de l’Odeon, Paris

Which is worse? Financial problems or visiting family members?

That’s what is confronting ex-pat bookstore owner Sylvia Beach, 34, who is writing to her sister, Holly Beach Dennis, 37, in Italy to ask for money.

Shakespeare and Company, 12 rue de l’Odeon

Sylvia and her partner, Adrienne Monnier, 29, who owns a French-language bookstore across the street, have just returned from a lovely holiday in Hyeres on the southeastern coast of France.

Now that they are back home Sylvia has to face her mother, here on her annual visit, joined by Mom’s brother and his son.

In addition, the bill for renovations Sylvia had to have done to move her shop, Shakespeare and Company, to this new—much improved—location has come due. A total of 2,120 francs, including printing the announcement of the relocation.

But the bill that worries Sylvia the most is the one from the printer, Darantiere, in Dijon. He needs 1,000 francs for the work he has done setting type for Ulysses, the controversial novel by Irish ex-pat James Joyce, 39, which Sylvia has offered to publish. Darantiere has agreed to be paid in instalments, and Sylvia has solicited quite a few pre-orders from around the world. But not enough subscribers have sent checks yet to cover the growing expenses.

Letter from Darantiere

Reluctantly, Sylvia writes to Holly:

I’m asking you to lend me a thousand francs!!! My carpentry bill will be handed in any day now and mother who was going to lend me all the money for my moving expenses had to stop off in the midst, having had a great deal of expense getting [their sister] Cyprian equipped as a rising film star…My business is going well [but I] have to put every single centime aside to pay the printer.”

The plan is still to bring out Ulysses this fall, but Sylvia is dubious.

“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 in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This fall I will be talking about Writers’ Salons in Dublin and London Before the Great War in the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon 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.