"When I die Dublin will be written in my heart."

To read Cedric Watts' article regarding the pleasures of reading James Joyce, click here.

James Augustus Aloysius Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, to a fairly poor, middle-class family, and was educated at two Jesuit schools, Clongowes Wood College in Kildare and Belvedere College in Dublin. He later thanked the Jesuits for teaching him to think straight, although he rejected their religious instruction. After graduating in 1902 he travelled to Paris, where he worked as a journalist, teacher and various other occupations. After a year, he returned to Ireland where his mother was dying. Soon after her death Joyce left Dublin with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid (they eventually married in 1931), staying in Pola, Austria and Trieste. Their years in Trieste were poverty-stricken, but productive, and they both loved the city where they lived at a number of different addresses.

It was during this period that he wrote most of Dubliners (1914) and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, together with the play, Exiles (1918) and a large part of Ulysses. They moved to Zurich during World War I and then to Paris in 1920. In the 1930s he was beset by family worries, not least that his daughter was diagnosed as schizophrenic in 1932, but also his own deteriorating eyesight. At the outbreak of World War II he was forced to return to Zurich, where he died on January 13th, 1941.

James Joyce was noted for his experimental use of language in such works as Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). Throughout his career Joyce was dogged by rejections from publishers, suppression by censors, attacks by critics and misunderstanding by readers. Although he and his family spent most of their time abroad, his country of birth always remained basic to his writings.



Author image