Part 31 - James Joyce met Nora Barnacle (June 16, 1904)

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This week (June 12-18) in literary history - Children's author Johanna Spyri was born (June 12, 1827); Mystery writer Dorothy Sayers was born (June 13, 1893); Harriett Beecher Stowe was born (June 14, 1811); Dante was named prior of Florence (June 15, 1300); James Joyce met Nora Barnacle (June 16, 1904); Novelist John Hersey was born (June 17, 1914); Editor Maxwell Perkins died (June 17, 1947); Novelist Gail Godwin was born (June 18, 1937)

Highlighted Literary Story of the Week -

On June 16, 1904, James Joyce met his future wife, Nora Barnacle, a lively, uneducated chambermaid with little interest in literature. Joyce will immortalize this day in his masterpiece Ulysses, whose narrative unfolds entirely on this date.

James Joyce was born in Dublin, the eldest of 10 children of a cheerful ne'er-do-well who eventually went bankrupt. Joyce attended Catholic school and University College in Dublin, where he learned Dano-Norwegian so he could read the plays of Henrik Ibsen in the original. In college, he began a lifetime of literary rebellion, self-publishing an essay rejected by the school's literary-magazine adviser.

After graduation, Joyce moved to Paris. He resolved to study medicine to support himself while writing but soon gave it up. He returned to Dublin to visit his mother's deathbed and remained to teach school and work odd jobs. On June 16, 1904, he met Nora, whom he convinced to Paris with him where they had two children.

In 1914, he published The Dubliners, and his 1915 novel, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, brought him fame and the patronage of several wealthy people, including Edith Rockefeller. In 1918, his revolutionary stream of consciousness novel Ulysses began to be serialized in the American journal Little Review. However, the U.S. Post Office stopped the publication's distribution in December of that year on the grounds that the novel was obscene. Sylvia Beach, owner of the bookstore Shakespeare and Co. in Paris, where Joyce moved in 1920, published the novel herself in 1922, but it was banned in the U.K. and in the U.S until 1933. Joyce's final novel, Finnegans Wake, was published in 1939. Forced to flee France during World War II, Joyce died in Zurich, Switzerland on January 13, 1941 and was buried at Fluntern Cemetery.

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Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Literary Legends of the British Isles and America's Literary Legends. Visit Michael's website for more information. His books can be purchased from Schiffer Publishing, Barnes and Noble, Powell's Books, Amazon and other fine book sellers.

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