James Joyce - Lived In Poverty For Many Years
James Joyce was born on 2 February 1882, the eldest of ten surviving children. He was educated by Jesuits at Clogowes Wood College and at Belvedere College before going on to University College, where he studied modern languages.
After his graduation he went to Paris, seemingly to study medicine, and was recalled to Dublin in April 1903 because of the illness and subsequent death of his mother. He stayed in Ireland until 1904, and in June that year he met Nora Barncale, the Galway woman who was to become his lifelong partner and faithful wife.
In August 1904 the first of Joyce’s short stories was published in the Irish Homestead magazine, followed by two others.
In October Joyce and Nora left Ireland going first to Pola, Croatia, where Joyce got a job teaching English at a Berlitz school.
After he left Ireland in 1904, Joyce only made four return visits to Ireland, the last of those in 1912.
All through his life Joyce existed on meagre earnings and with a wife and two children to support, the family many times lived in fairly uncomfortable surrounds. In exile he had great difficulty finding a generous publisher and even his most famous work, Ulysses, struggled to secure a publishing partner.
In Dublin he courted much criticism for a statement he made after his mothers death saying ‘No one who has any self respect stays in Ireland’. This statement was considered disrespectful to the vast numbers of Irish people who laid down their lives for Ireland’s freedom.
1914 proved a crucial year for Joyce. With Ezra Pound’s assistance, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce’s first novel, began to appear in serial form in Harriet Weaver’s Egoist magazine in London.
His collection of short stories 'Dubliners' on which he had been working since 1904, was finally published. He also wrote his only play, 'Exiles'.
Ulysses had been in the incubator since 1907 but getting down to work on such a major project had many obstacles, most of all the lack of a weekly income for survival. The outbreak of World War 1 dealt a severe blow to Joyce and his wife, Nora Barnacle. The family fled Trieste, France and arrived in Zurich where they lived for the duration of the war on subventions from friends and family. It was in Zurich that Ulysses took over his life.
After the war the family took up residence in Paris for the next twenty years and the publication of Ulysses was deemed controversial and even banned in certain quarters. Joyce was distraught to secure a publisher until he met an American lady living in Paris.
Beach offered to publish Ulysses and finally, on 2nd February 1922, Joyce’s fortieth birthday, the first edition of Ulysses was published. Beach continued to publish Ulysses through 1930.
Joyce’s last and perhaps most challenging work, Finnegans Wake was published on 4 May 1939. It was immediately listed as “the book of the week” in the UK and the USA.
James Joyce died at the age of fifty-nine, on 13 January 1941 in Zurich and is buried in Fluntern cemetery, Zurich, Switzerland.