Parisians in Profile: Octavia Horgan, Shakespeare & Company Bookseller

Parisians in Profile: Octavia Horgan, Shakespeare & Company Bookseller

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“Parisians in Profile: Octavia Horgan, Bookseller at Shakespeare & Company” by Emma Jacobs

This is the third in an exclusive series of illustrated “Parisians in Profile” about Parisians from all walks of life, created by journalist Emma Jacobs. Here we feature Octavia Horgan, a bookseller at the iconic Shakespeare & Company bookstore near Notre Dame cathedral. A beloved cultural institution and pilgrimage spot, Shakespeare & Company is still known to let young writers, known as “Tumbleweeds”, sleep overnight in the shop. Just next to this famous independent bookstore, the new café has become a popular spot for coffee, tea, and fresh-squeezed juices, as well as organic (mostly vegetarian) food. Address: 37 rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris.

Quotes have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

If you have suggestions of people you’d like to see featured in future installments, please leave them in the comments section below.


  1. Years ago, I was invited to stay at Shakespeare & Co to complete my book. Although I did not stay, I did complete the book which includes Shakespeare & Co at its original address and Sylvia Beach. The book is ‘A CRUEL CALM, Paris Between the Wars’ and is based on my mother’s life in Paris 1927-39. She lived on the Ile St. Louis and James Joyce lived in the apartment above hers. The book took 14 years to research and write and since my mother died when I was only 18, I have had to make it a historical fiction. However, the facts are there and Mr. Joyce speaks in his own words taken from interviews and his written work. I love Paris and so enjoyed doing research there.

  2. I will buy your book! In 1999 I was invited to stay in George Whitman’s Writer’s Room to write a book about him and the bookstore. I went to Paris immediately, met with him, returned to my hotel to get my suitcase and immediately fell ill, remaining in my room until I had to return home disappointed. I do, however, remain loyal to the bookstore. It’s the first place I go when I arrive in Paris and the last before I leave!