James Joyce Biography

(One of the Most Influential Writers of the 20th Century)

Birthday: February 2, 1882 (Aquarius)

Born In: Rathgar, Ireland

James Joyce was one of the most influential writers in the early part of the 20th century. This Irish poet, short story writer, novelist and playwright is known for his modernist avant-garde style of writing that focused on literary innovation, narrative and indirect style. In his seminal work, ‘Ulysses', he perfected the literary technique of ‘stream of consciousness', which refers to the thought process of the narrator. He was also known for the experimental use of language and made many technical discoveries in the art of novel writing, like the use of interior monologue. Some of his well-known works include, ‘Finnegans Wake’, 'Dubliners', 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' and 'Pomes Penyeach'. Apart from this, he also authored three books of poetry, gained some experience in journalism and authored a play. As a young boy, he loved to read and developed a passion for writing and literature. While his writing is based on Dublin, his fictional characters resemble people he knew in real life. The explicit content in his writings resulted in landmark decisions on obscenity.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: James Augustine Aloysius Joyce

Died At Age: 58


Spouse/Ex-: Nora

father: John Stanislaus Joyce

mother: Mary Jane

siblings: Stanislaus Joyce

children: Lucia

Born Country: Ireland

Quotes By James Joyce Novelists

Died on: January 13, 1941

place of death: Zürich, Switzerland

Diseases & Disabilities: Astraphobia, Cynophobia

Cause of Death: Perforated Ulcer

More Facts

education: University College Dublin

Childhood & Early Life
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born in Rathgar, a suburban part of Dublin, Ireland. His parents were John Stanislaus Joyce, a well-respected man in Dublin and Mary Jane May Murray.
His father mismanaged family funds and this led them to poverty. The senior Joyce spent much of the time drinking and did not give the desired attention to the family affairs.
Even as a child, young Joyce was deeply passionate about writing and literature. He would read voraciously and even managed to learn Norwegian all by himself to read Henrik Ibsen's plays.
In 1888, he went to the Clongowes Wood College but had to drop out due to lack of funds. He later went to the O'Connell School and then Belvedere College. He finally graduated with an art degree from the University College Dublin.
In 1900, his work was published for the first time in 'Fortnightly Review'. He had authored a review article of Henrik Ibsen's ‘When We Dead Awaken’ for the journal.
After his graduation, he went to Paris in 1902, to pursue further studies in the field of medicine. However, he found it difficult to understand the French lectures and came back to Ireland to see his ailing mother.
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In 1904, along with his love interest Nora Barnacle, he moved to Zurich, Switzerland, and later went to the Italian seaport city of Trieste. He taught English there.
In May 1907, he published his book, ‘Chamber Music', which was a collection of poems. The book had a collection of 36 poems, all of which are based on the theme of love.
From 1909, he continued to write and work on the manuscript of the book, ‘Dubliners'. He also started to look for publishers. He opened the cinema house, ' Volta Cinematograph'.
In 1914, he published his book, ‘Dubliners', which was a collection of short stories. The stories carefully analysed the facets of Dublin society during the early 20th century.
In 1916, he came out with his first novel titled, ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. The novel had a sort of coming-of-age plot but was not commercially successful. He however, earned praise for his style of writing.
In 1918, he authored the play, ‘Exiles’, which was based on the life of an acclaimed writer, who comes back to Dublin after spending nine years in exile. This play was inspired by one of his short stories.
Around 1918, serial forms of his novel ‘Ulysses' was published in the magazine, ‘The Little Review'. The publication faced many censorship problems for alleged explicit content.
In 1922, his Modernist novel, ‘Ulysses' was published by Sylvia Beach, who owned the well-known bookshop, ‘Shakespeare and Company'. An English version was published but it again faced censorship problems.
In 1927, he came out with his book of poems titled, ‘Pomes Penyeach', which contained thirteen short poems. He took twenty years to write this collection of poems.
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It was not until the 1933 that ‘Ulysses' was published in the United States of America, after being ruled out for pornographic content. This book gained criticism but at the same time it also earned praise for his style of writing.
In 1939, he came out with his work of comic prose titled, ‘Finnegans Wake’. This work is known for its experimental style and is regarded as one among the most difficult works of fiction to read.
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Major Works
His book, ‘Finnegans Wake’ is regarded as one of the finest works in English literature. It was ranked number 77 on the Modern Library (an American publishing house) list of ‘100 best English-language novels of the 20th century'.
His novel, ‘Ulysses' is revered as one of the most significant works in the genre of modernist literature. It was ranked number one on the Modern Library (an American publishing house) list of ‘100 best English-language novels of the 20th century'
Personal Life & Legacy
After he was attacked by a dog in his childhood, this famous author started suffering from cynophobia (abnormal fear of dogs). This continued all through his life.
He suffered from Astraphobia, fear of thunder and lightning
In 1904, he met a woman named Nora Barnacle, who at that time was employed as a chamber maid. They eloped later and eventually married and had two children.
Around 1920, eye problems started to affect his health. He was treated and underwent surgery for the same.

It is believed that he suffered from schizophrenia.
In 1941, he was operated for perforated ulcer. Though he showed signs of recovery, he went into a severe coma and eventually died the following day. He was laid to rest at the Fluntern Cemetery near Zurich Zoo.
In 1999, ‘Time’ magazine named him to be one of the ‘100 Most Important People of the 20th century'.
A statue of him was installed in North Earl Street, Dublin.
The scholarly publication, ‘James Joyce Quarterly' is named after him.
His work and life is celebrated annually on June 16 as 'Bloomsday' in Dublin and other parts of the world.

See the events in life of James Joyce in Chronological Order

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