George Whitman

George Whitman (December 12, 1913 – December 14, 2011) was the proprietor of the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris. He was a contemporary of such Beat poets as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Whitman was born in East Orange, New Jersey, United States, and while he was still an infant the family moved to Salem, Massachusetts. In 2006 Whitman was awarded the "Officier des Arts et Lettres" medal by the French government for his contribution to the arts over the previous fifty years. Whitman founded his bookstore in 1951 and named it Le Mistral, then later named it after Sylvia Beach's earlier Paris bookstore "Shakespeare and Company". His shop, located at 37 rue de la Bûcherie in Paris, was opened in August 1951 (two years before a sister bookshop City Lights was opened in San Francisco by Lawrence Ferlinghetti) by George Whitman with an inheritance from his aunt. He called the shop "Le Mistral" after his first French girlfriend. From the very first night he allowed travellers, young writers, poets and artists to lodge in exchange for a hand in cleaning the shop, building shelves and selling books.

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