James Augusta Aloysius Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 2 February 1882, the eldest of ten children. He had already begun writing poems before studying English, French, and Italian at the University College Dublin in 1898, but he became more active in theatrical and literary societies during his university years. After graduating in 1902, Joyce travelled to Paris to study medicine. He returned to Dublin in 1903.
Between 1904 and 1920, Joyce lived in London in England, Zurich in Switzerland, and Trieste in Italy, returning to his birthplace of Dublin only for brief periods. In London, Joyce met and befriended two American poets: T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Between 1914 and 1916, Pound worked with Joyce to serialise A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in the London magazine The Egoist owned by Harriet Shaw Weaver.
By 1919, Joyce was a published author, having four of his works in print: a poetry collection entitled Chamber Music in 1907; a collection of short stories entitled Dubliners in 1914; his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in 1916; and his first play called Exiles in 1918.
In 1919, after living in Zurich for five years, Joyce moved to Trieste, Italy. Joyce met Ezra Pound on vacation near Venice, and Pound recommended France to Joyce as a place to finish his novel Ulysses. Joyce’s intention was to stay in Paris for a short time—a week to a few months—before moving to London. James Joyce arrived in Paris by train on 8 July 1920, with Nora Barnacle and their two children, Giorgio and Lucia. Joyce was thirty-eight years old; Nora was thirty-six; Giorgio was fifteen; and Lucia was almost thirteen.
In Paris, he gained a reputation and fame as an avant-garde writer, but he fluctuated between times of poverty and times of financial comfort. He had constant eye problems and stomach ulcers, and his daughter Lucia needed health care for depression and mood fluctuations. Joyce was never wealthy, but he received substantial financial support from Sylvia Beach, an American publisher and owner of the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, and from Harriet Shaw Weaver in London, the editor of The Egoist magazine. Beach published Ulysses in 1922 and London-based Faber and Faber Limited published Joyce’s final novel Finnegans Wake in 1939.
Joyce lived in Paris for 19 years in Paris and 20 years in France, from July 1920 to December 1940. However, he never bought a home of his own.
Joyce lived in ten residences on the Left Bank and eight residences on the Right Bank of Paris. He lived in ten apartments and eight hotels. His longest stays were in the 7th arrondissement at Square de Robiac for six years and Rue Edmond Valentin for five years.
Only one residence has a plaque of remembrance – the home of the French poet Valery Larbaud. There is also the Jardin James Joyce and a duplicate of Sylvia Beach’s bookshop Shakespeare and Company. Neither the garden nor the current bookshop have direct connections to James Joyce.
Outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, and Germany’s attack on France in May 1940, eventually led to the French government leaving Paris on 10 June before Germany’s occupation of the city began on 14 June 1940. (Paris was eventually liberated on 25 August 1944.) Joyce and his family left Paris on 23 December 1939, to stay with Maria and Eugene Jolas in Saint-Gérand-le-Puy, near Vichy, in central France. The Joyce family left France by train on 14 December 1940, arriving in Zurich on 17 December.
On 11 January 1941, Joyce had surgery for a perforated duodenal ulcer, and although the surgery successfully removed the ulcer, he fell into a coma and passed away two days later on 13 January, two weeks before his fifty-ninth birthday, and less than a month after leaving Paris. His wife Nora died on 10 April 1951 at the age of sixty-seven. The two are buried in Fluntern Cemetery in Zurich with their son Giorgio, who died on 13 June 1976 at the age of seventy. Their daughter Lucia Joyce died on 12 December 1982 at the age of seventy-five, and is buried in Kingsthorpe Cemetery in England. At the time of writing, James Joyce’s grandson, Stephen James Joyce, the son of Giorgio and Helen, born in 1932, lives in Paris. He is eighty-seven years old.
James Joyce was in Ireland for the last time in 1912; in Italy for the last time in 1920; in England for the last time in 1931; and in France for the last time in 1940.
Nancy Woodbridge Beach was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and the family migrated to Paris in 1901 when Sylvia was fourteen years old. At the age of nineteen in 1906, she returned to America with her parents, but travelled back to Paris in 1918 to study French literature, where she met Adrienne Monnier.
On 19 November 1919, Beach opened her own bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, at 8 Rue Dupuytrens in the 6th arrondissement. It was this store that James Joyce frequented before Beach relocated the business to larger premises on 27 July 1921 at 12 Rue de l’Odéon, where it operated until the end of 1941.
Beach published the first edition of Ulysses in Paris on 2 February 1922, particularly to coincide with Joyce’s 40th birthday. Joyce’s sponsor, Harriet Shaw Weaver, owner of the Egoist Press in London, followed by publishing the first British edition in October 1922.
At the beginning of the Second World War, Beach stored her books in an apartment above the bookshop at the end of 1941 with the German occupation and her detainment. Interred at Vittel, in France, for six months, she was released in February 1942. She remained in Paris, where she lived with Adrienne Monnier, at 18 Rue de l’Odéon, for thirty-six years, until Monnier’s suicide in 1955. However, she never re-opened the store. Instead, she published her own book about it in 1956, simply titled Shakespeare and Company. She died in Paris on 5 October 1962 at the age of seventy-five, and is buried in Princeton Cemetery, New Jersey, in the city of her childhood.
The James Joyce Society of Sweden and Finland erected a plaque in the late 1990s to commemorate the 12 Rue de l’Odéon store.
The American bookseller George Whitman established a bookstore in Paris in 1951, calling it Le Mistral, but in 1964 he renamed it Shakespeare and Co. Antiquarian Books after Beach’s store—commonly known as Shakespeare and Company, where it continues to operate in Paris to this day at 37 Rue de la Bûcherie on the Left Bank in the 5th arrondissement. The “new” Shakespeare and Company bookstore is not in the same location as the original, nor does it have any connection to Sylvia Beach, yet its exterior and interior have been faithfully imitated, providing visitors with the ambience of yesteryear and a wealth of English-language literature and publications.
JARDIN JAMES JOYCE
At 7 Rue George-Balanchine in the 13th arrondissement, on the Left Bank near the 2006 Josephine Baker Swimming Pool, is the Jardin James Joyce—the James Joyce Garden—in James Joyce Square. Constructed from 1996 to 1999, it was opened to the public in 1998.
Joyce never lived in the 13th arrondissement, and the garden has no statue or signifying feature that connects the place to the author. Nevertheless, this tribute bears his name and two signs on the perimeter fence.
Local landscape designers Michel Desvigne and Christine Dalnoky constructed the garden.