ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

James Joyce Biography

Updated on February 17, 2015

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.


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.


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.

Additional Information


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)