George Whitman

George Whitman

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George Whitman

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George Whitman (born c. 1912) is the proprietor of the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris. He was a contemporary of such Beat poets as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. He is a grand-nephew of American poet Walt Whitman.

He was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and although his exact age is generally undisclosed, some think his birthday is December 12, 1913, although a US drivers license seen by Captain Franko in 1989 carried the date as December 12, 1911. 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"., The New York Times, June 21, 2010 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. Sylvia Beach, whose famous shop was on 12, rue de l'Odéon, was still in Paris and came to Le Mistral to see the writers of...
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