August Brentano
August Brentano (1828–1886), Bookseller

August Brentano was born on December 23, 1828 in Hohenems in what is now Schweizer Straße 6. He came from a family of merchants who had lived in Hohenems for several generations. As the youngest son, and with a crippled hand too, he had no chance of inheriting the family’s business and settlement title. He emigrated to the US in 1853 and initially worked as a newspaper boy. Finally he was able to open a newspaper stand in Boston, then in New York, where he sold imported European newspapers, which led to a large turnover. In 1860 he opened his first bookshop. Under the name Brentano’s, the store he bequeathed to his nephew in 1877 achieved a legendary reputation – and became the largest bookstore in New York City, as well as a meeting place for prominent American writers. Brentano’s soon opened several branches in various American cities, as well as a book publishing house specializing in French literature. Later, a bookstore was added in Paris, the only bookstore that still bears the name Brentano’s today, even though it belongs to an Iranian businessman.