A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
James Joyce
Contributed by Cinderella Domino
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Author’s Biography

James Joyce was born on February 2nd 1882 in Rathgar, Dublin.  He was the eldest of 10 children whose family collapsed into poverty, but despite this he was well educated in the best Jesuit schools and then at University College, Dublin.  His education started at Clongowes Wood College. In 1893, Joyce then went to the Belvedere College and his education was concluded at the University.

Some of his early works were published in the Fortnightly Review, including ‘Ibsen’s New Drama’. In 1902 Joyce went on his first trip to Paris experiencing the liberated European scene for the first time, which was in stark contrast to the strict Dublin society.

In 1903 his mother, Mary Jane Joyce, died.

In 1904 Joyce eloped with Nora Barnacle and the pair traveled across Europe to live finally in Trieste near the Italian/Yugoslav border. His son, Giorgio, was born on 27th July 1905.

He then moved to Rome for a brief period during which time he composed his work ‘Stephen Hero’. His travels took him back to Trieste where his daughter Lucia was born on 26th April 1907. He wrote several essays on Irish politics, which were published in the local papers.  During this time he journeyed to and from Dublin and he fulfilled several lecturing engagements where he gave talks on the works of Shakespeare.

In 1914 he started his work on ‘A Portrait’ and it was serialized in the Egoist.

The Joyce family then moved to Zurich where he commenced work on ‘Ulysses’, once ‘A Portrait’ had been completed. ‘A Portrait’ was published in its complete form in America initially in 1916, closely followed by publication in Great Britain.

In 1920 Joyce moved to Paris and he halted his work on ‘Ulysses’, but instead had another literary work ‘Exiles’ published.  The Joyce family seemed to enjoy a happy life in Paris, which became a cultural centre for the Arts after the First World War.

In 1932 his daughter Lucia was diagnosed as suffering from a mental illness, and needed much care. 

Although ‘Ulysses’ had been completed in 1922, it was not published in Great Britain until 1936.  It caused a great deal of controversy at the time, but it is now regarded as a groundbreaking work of modernism.  This is an enormous literary work and many scholars link its structure to Homer’s ‘Odyssey’. It is concerned with a single day in the life of Leopold Bloom who is a Jewish advertising canvasser who also represents a mature Stephen Dedalus.  ‘Ulysses’ was groundbreaking because it was unique in the fact that no writer previously had challenged the reader to appreciate Joyce’s versatile use of the English language. Some quarters of the literary world regarded specific episodes as being obscene, and this was one of the factors that delayed its publication. Attempts to censor this epic only heightened the public’s desire to read it. Although it was published in serial form in Paris, copies were smuggled back to mainland Britain and Ireland.

Joyce’s latter years were taken up with work on ‘Finnegan’s Wake’, which again showed Joyce’s literary skills portraying a dreamlike vision of life’s cycles. This work was published in 1939 and during this year Joyce was on the road again, leaving Paris for Zurich.

Joyce died at the age of 59 in Zurich in 1941.

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