UCL News


And the beat goes on

1 July 2003

Former UCL students organised a literary festival in Paris in June to celebrate the city's influential role in the development of modern literature.

Festival organisers included Tara Mulholland, Sylvia Whitman and Emily Randall, pictured with George Whitman

The festival was centred around the renowned English language bookshop Shakespeare & Co. Situated on the Left Bank, the shop became a mecca for writers and beatniks, including Allan Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, in the 1950s and 1960s.

The organisers, led by Sylvia Whitman (SSEES 2002), attracted a number of high profile speakers to the seven-day event, including Jung Chang, author of 'Wild Swans', Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and founder of San Francisco's City Lights Bookshop and UCL academics Dr Mark Ford, Professor Danny Karlin and Professor René Weis (English Language & Literature).

The series of talks, readings and performances examined writers including Ernest Hemingway, Allan Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Eric Satie, James Joyce and Ezra Pound. The festival culminated in 'Blooms Day', a 24-hour celebration of James Joyce's Ulysses, which was originally published by Shakespeare & Co.

Film and music were also represented with a screening of Tom and Viv, Michael Hastings' film exploring the marriage of T S Elliot and Vivienne Haigh-Wood. David Aram, composer and pioneer of the 'jazz-poetry reading', hosted a one-off performance, while a special screening of Shakespeare & Co and Mr Whitman, a new BBC documentary, was also held. The film relates the history of the bookshop and features the current owner, George Whitman, Sylvia's father.

Image: Festival Tara Mulholland, Sylvia Whitman and Emily Randall, pictured with George Whitman.