James Joyce Biography

Early Years

He is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, and he is known for novels such as "Ulysses", "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", and "Finnegans Wake". James Joyce is considered a major contributor to the development of the Modernist Novel.

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born on February 2, 1882 in Dublin, Ireland to John and Mary Joyce. In 1888, Joyce begun his education at Clongowes Wood College a boarding school for boys; because of his father's poor management of the family finances, Joyce was forced to leave school, and for a brief period of time continue his studies at home. Later, he studied at Christian Brothers School before he was accepted at the Jesuits Belvedere College in 1893. When he was accepted at Belvedere, It was hoped that Joyce would be interested in becoming a priest, however by the time he was sixteen he rejected Catholicism; Ironically enough, despite his rejection of the Catholic faith, he continued to be influenced by the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas for the remainder of his life. In 1898 Joyce enrolled at the University College Dublin(UCD); he focused on language studying English, Italian, and French. During this time he begun to show interest and participate in literary circles, and he wrote some of his first articles; Some of the friends that Joyce made at college would appear as characters in Joyce's later works.

Zurich, Trieste and Pola

When Joyce graduated from UCD in 1903, he left for Paris to study medicine; Soon after he abandoned this dream; the lectures were too difficult to follow in the French language. Later, in 1903 at the request of his father, he returned home because his mother was dying. A few weeks later, Joyce's mother passed away. After her death in August 1903, James stayed in Dublin and continued to drink heavily; as the conditions at home deteriorated, he tried his best to earn a living anyway he could including teaching, book reviews, and singing. Later, in January 1902 Joyce tried to publish "A Portrait of the Artist" it was rejected; a short time later, on his twenty second birthday, he decided to change the story to a novel called "Stephen Hero"; it would basically be a story loosely based on his teenage years. As he rewrote his earlier story into "Stephen Hero" he became frustrated with it and ceased work on it. Although it would never be published in its present form, years later, Joyce would rewrite it and rename it to " A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." At this time he met Nora Barnacle, a young woman who was working as a chambermaid. They dated for the first time on June 16, 1904, a date which would be mentioned years later in his novel "Ulysses." James and Nora moved to Zürich on the promise of a teaching position for Joyce. When they arrived no job was waiting for him; James and Nora were then sent to Trieste. Once again, no teaching position available, but with the help of the director of the Trieste Berlitz school, he was able to secured a position in Pola. Joyce taught English in Pola from October 1904 to March 1905; when a spy ring was discovered in Pola all foreigners were expelled. Once again, with help Joyce was able to secure a English teaching post back in Trieste. Once there, he would remain in Trieste(more or less) for the next ten years.

Later in 1905, their first child George was born; during this time Joyce was able to talk his brother into moving to Trieste. Joyce missed his brother and wanted to offer him a more exciting life than the clerk position he held in Dublin; in addition, Joyce hoped to supplement his family's income with his brother's earnings. Once Stanislaus arrived in Trirste, he and Joyce fought the whole time they lived together; most arguments were about Joyce's excessive drinking and household finances. As time went on, Joyce became unhappy with life in Trieste; late in 1906 he moved to Rome, and secured a job in a local bank. Joyce disliked Rome, and in early 1907 decided to move back to Trieste. During this time, his daughter was born in the same year. In the summer of 1909, Joyce returned to Dublin with his son to visit his father and to try to publish his work "Dubliners." As time went on, Joyce would make a few more trips to Dublin with his final trip in 1912; during his year long fight with his Dublin publisher, Joyce returned to Dublin during the summer of 1912 in an attempt to get "Dubliners." pubulished. As before, the trip was fruitless; on the return trip to Trieste, and out of frustration for his publisher, Joyce wrote the poem "Gas from a Burner." After this trip to Dublin, and despite many invitations from his dad and friend William Butler Yeats, Joyce never set foot in Dublin again.

In 1915, after most of his students were drafted for military service, he moved to Zürich. During this time, he met one of his most important friends, Frank Budgen; Joyce constantly sought his opinion for the writing of "Ulysses" and "Finnegans Wake." During this time, Ezra Pound brought Joyce to the attention of English publisher Harriet Shaw Weaver. In time she would become Joyce's patron, providing him with money over the next 20 plus years; this would relieve him of teaching so he could focus on his writing. While in Zurich, he wrote Exiles, published "A Portrait", and began work on "Ulysses." Zurich during world war one was home to exiles and artists from many countries in Europe; The bohemian, multilingual atmosphere suited Joyce well. However, as before, after a few years he was restless; after the war, he returned to Trieste. His friends noticed the maturity in him, the relationship with his brother remained strained. In 1920, James Joyce decided to visit Paris at the request of his friend Ezra Pound; he was invited to stay for a week, but ended up staying twenty years.

Paris

Now he was living in Paris, Joyce was now in a position to finally finishing "Ulysses."; delighted to find that he was gaining fame as a writer, and with money from Shaw Weaver, Joyce could focus on writing, as well as interact with other literary figures in the city. A popular gathering location for writers was called Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare and Company. She published Joyce's "Ulysses." In March 1922, Ernest Hemingway met Joyce. The two writers became good friends, and frequently embarked on alcoholic Literary discussions. During this time, Joyce's eyes began to give him problems. He was treated by a doctor in Paris, receiving nine surgeries from him until 1929. During the 1930s, he often traveled to Switzerland for eye surgeries and treatments.

In Paris, Maria and Eugene Jolas encouraged Joyce during his years of writing "Finnegans Wake." without their unwavering support, and Weavers's constant financial support, there is a good chance Joyce might never have finished or written this novel. In their literary magazine "Transition," the Jolases published various sections of Joyce's novel under the title "Work in Progress." During 1940, Joyce returned to Zürich, fleeing the Nazi occupation of France.

Death

On January 11, 1941, he underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer; despite several transfusions, Joyce went into a coma. He awoke in the early morning hours on January 13,1941, and asked the nurse to call his wife and son while he was consciousness. Although the family tried to get there quickly as possible, Joyce died 15 minutes later. He is buried in the Fluntern Cemetery; Two Irish diplomats were in Switzerland when James Joyce passed away; neither attended his funeral. In addition, the Irish government refused Nora's request for the repatriation of Joyce. Nora out live her husband a few years she is buried by his side, as is their son  George who died in 1976.

Comments 41 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Interesting background of Joyce. Although I read a bit of his writings, I never became an enthusiast.I was puzzled, and still am, about why he is acclaimed as a "Catholic " writer.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 6 years ago

More people read about Joyce than read Joyce, including yours truly. I started Ulysses once, but I don't think I finished it. I may just have read excerpts--the ones that led to the book being banned for a time in the U.S.


St.James profile image

St.James 6 years ago from Lurking Around Florida

Really enjoyed your hub about one of my all-time favorite authors. I will always be a die-hard James Joyce fan. Irish writers and story-tellers can spin a mighty fine "yarn"


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@dahoglund - I know what you mean, everything I have read said he rejected the Catholic faith; as always thank you for your comments, and thanks for stopping by once again


Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 6 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is one of my favorite novels. Wonderful.

Thanks for writing this hub :)


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Ralph Deeds - I know what you mean; I was a little surprised at some of the you tube videos i didn't feel comfortable using with this article; once again it is nice to hear from you


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@St.James - Thanks for your comments, and thanks for stopping by


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Uninvited Writer - Thank you for the kind words; glad you enjoyed this hub :)


Brenda Scully 6 years ago

thankyou for this hub..... in Ireland where i live, much is spoken of this author. I do not find his books too easy to read, but so enjoyed this hub. There are lots of martello towers near where we are.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Brenda Scully - Thank you for your feedback; glad you enjoyed reading my article


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

Great hub, I had to read Ulyssus for college one time and it was interesting. Very nice job on this hub. I always enjoy your work.


Quilligrapher profile image

Quilligrapher 6 years ago from New York

Cool hub and a pleasant read, Coolmon.

The use of stream of consciousness in Ulysses tends to make it a more demanding read but surely worth the effort.

In Joyce’s day, with 94% of the population Roman Catholic, life in Ireland was similar in some ways to life in Iran or under the Taliban today. It is easy to see why he had issues with the Catholic Church that did not include Catholicism as a whole.

Q.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@ladyjane1 - thanks for your comments, and it is nice to hear from you again :)


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Quilligrapher - In reference to Ulysses, I understand what you mean; thank you for the overview of Ireland in reference to Catholicism in the early 20th century, it helps to understand Joyce's mindset better. Also, thanks for taking the time to comment on this article.


englightenedsoul profile image

englightenedsoul 6 years ago

Really nice hub. Rated up and congratulations this article is a featured article on hubpages.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@englightenedsoul - Thank you for your kind words, and taking the time to leave a comment on this article


Truth From Truth profile image

Truth From Truth 6 years ago from Michigan

I have to admit I knew little of his work. Thanks for sharing your knowledge of this talented writer. I will have to give one of his books a try.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Truth From Truth - Thanks for your comments, and thanks for stopping by.


AARON99 6 years ago

Really a wonderful hub. Keep it up.


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Great hub.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@AARON99 - Thank you for your kind words.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Sandyspider - Thank you for your comment:)


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

wonderful cool, good job here, one of Irish great writers, if not the best --- you nailed it, Maita


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@prettydarkhorse - Thank you for your comments; it is nice to hear from you once again.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

You are always welcome cool, I follow you and you are wirth it, Maita


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@prettydarkhorse - Thank you Maita you got it going on yourself. I admire how you write hubs that are relevant, informative, and well written on a consistent basis; thanks for your kind words :)


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@dali48 - I understand what you mean, his works are hard to follow. I am glad my article helped you to understand the man better. Thank you for taking the time to comment on this article.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Coolmon2009, this is another great hub on history! You do them so well. The history of "artists" and the "famous" are done very well here. Thanks again!


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Micky Dee - Nice to hear from you and thank you for the kind words :)


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Hi cool, I am just checking out on you, How are you, am glad you wrote about this hub as, St. Patricks day is approaching, in Ireland.. Maita


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@prettydarkhorse - Thank you for your comments :)


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

My favorite Joyce work is "Araby." Great job!


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@habee - Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for your comments.


tracykarl99 profile image

tracykarl99 6 years ago from San Francisco

A wonderful hub ~ created with a love of literature. I've learned something here! thank you.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@tracykarl99 - I am glad you enjoyed reading my article, and thanks for leaving comments.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Joyce is not the easiest of writers but well worth the effort of reading. This is a wonderful introduction to him and his work. Thanks.

Love and peace

Tony


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 6 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@tonymac04 - I know what you mean, his writing style can be challenging. It is Nice to hear from you again :)


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago

Thanks so much for putting together this information about this very influential author. I learned things I never knew and appreciate you sharing your knowledge. Rated up and useful.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 5 years ago from Texas, USA Author

toknowinfo@ Yes Mr Joyce is an influential author. He lead a very interesting life too. Thanks for your comments :)


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

A great Hub! This is a very interesting biography of James Joyce. I learned a lot in this hub. I have read the Ulysses many years ago. Thanks for sharing.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 5 years ago from Texas, USA Author

@Thelma Alberts - Thank you for your comments. I am glad you enjoyed reading my article :)

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