'Learning from George' is a beautifully-written essay-memoir about the legendary Shakespeare & Company bookstore, and its Don Quixote-like former proprietor George Whitman. In 2000 Adrian Hornsby arrived in Paris searching for literature, and spent the next three years managing the store, living on and off among the shelves, watching the trains of poets and ragged dreamers passing through, and finding that what both books and bookstores truly reveal are lessons in humanity.
The original Shakespeare & Company, which was founded by Sylvia Beach, and published James Joyce’s Ulysses, was closed down during the Second World War. In the early 1950s George Whitman opened a new English language bookstore a few hundred yards up the left bank. It rapidly became a hang out for Beat generation writers and their heirs, as well as a temporary home to literally tens of thousands of literary vagabonds over the half-century that George ran it.
Since leaving Paris Adrian Hornsby has gone on to write a number of highly-acclaimed books, plays and pieces of music theatre. His most recent work, an opera made with Dutch composer Arnoud Noordegraaf and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, premiered at the Holland Festival in June 2015.