Readers and Critics
83 Ulysses, 1936 ~ Harriet Shaw Weaver Collection

ULYSSES | James Joyce | JOHN LANE THE BODLEY HEAD | BURY STREET WC1 | LONDON
 (113K)  (207K)

Contents: pp. [i-iv], blank; p. [v], half-title; p. [vi], blank; p. [vii], title-page; p. [viii], blank; p. [ix], colophon: THIS EDITION PUBLISHED 1936 | Limited to 1,000 copies, | divided as follows: | 100 COPIES ON MOULD-MADE PAPER BOUND IN | CALF VELLUM AND SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR | 900 COPIES ON JAPON VELLUM PAPER BOUND IN | LINEN BUCKRAM, UNSIGNED ; p. [x], printer and binder’s statements: MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN | PRINTED BY WESTERN PRINTING SERVICES, LTD, BRISTOL | ON PAPER SUPPLIED BY SPALDING AND HODGE LTD | AND BOUND BY | THE LEIGHTON STRAKER BOOKBINDING CO. | [star]; p. [xi], PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF ‘ULYSSES’ [list of seven editions]; p. [xii], blank; p. [xiii], contents; p. [xiv], blank; p. [xv], second half-title; p. [xvi], blank; pp. 1-742, text; pp. 743–66, Appendices A–C; pp. [767–68], blank. Published: 3 September 1936; 1000 copies in two issues, number of out-of-series copies not determined; £6 6s (vellum), £3 3s (buckram); copies 101-900, bound in green linen buckram over boards, 26.2 x 20 cm., green and yellow silk headband, gilt stamped on front covers: [the Homeric Bow designed by Eric Gill], and on spine: ULYSSES | James Joyce | THE BODLEY HEAD ; printed on Japon vellum, top edge trimmed, gilt, 25 x 19 cm.; issued in a light brown paper dust-jacket, printed in black and red.

Stuart Gilbert, the critic, translator and former British civil service officer met Joyce in Paris in 1927. Then in 1930 Gilbert wrote one of the first lengthy and authorized interpretations of the novel–with Joyce’s assistance–James Joyce’s Ulysses. The texts of previous editions of Ulysses were notoriously corrupt and, again under the author’s direction, Gilbert corrected the text for the 1932 Odyssey Press edition. The Bodley Head English edition of Ulysses based its edition on the second, further corrected impression of the Odyssey Press text, and thus could tout the accuracy of its edition: laid into Weaver’s copy is the publisher’s advertisement for the “Final and definitive edition” of Ulysses, a claim that was soon challenged. This is an out-of-series “Presentation Copy” (of which Weaver had two) otherwise identical to the 900 series. Joyce inscribed the copy to: “Harriet Weaver | on the day of publication | October 3rd 1936.” In the Paul and Lucie Léon Collection is also copy No. 98 of the 100 signed copies beautifully bound in cream colored calf vellum with blue and white silk head and tail bands, and gilt stamped on both the front and back covers with Gill’s bow. The addition of blue ink to the title-page also distinguishes copies 1-100 which were not issued in a dust-jacket but in a slipcase covered in black and cream geometrically patterned paper.
 

84 Photograph of Edmund Wilson, [n.d.] ~ Edmund Wilson Papers
(64K)

Edmund Wilson’s mediation between the American reading public and the new generation of experimental authors shaped the reception of Joyce, Eliot, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Millay, and Stein, to name just a few. Wilson’s appraisals of these innovative writers–and the motifs and structures in their works he identified and described–remain central to our interpretation of the modernist literary movement. His summaries were informative and helpful to puzzled readers and his historical and biographical approach situated these more radical writers within a comprehensible framework and tradition.
 

85
 &
86
Schema of Ulysses & Letter
from Edmund Wilson to Richard Ellmann, 18 January 1967
~ Edmund Wilson Library & Richard Ellmann Papers
 

Gorman-Wilson Schema: 5 leaves of typing paper, glued together horizontally to resemble a scroll, 6.2 x 99 cm., typed in black ink, with pencil corrections.

&

Edmund Wilson, Wellfleet, Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Richard Ellmann. TLS, 1 p.

Dear Mr. Ellmann: I have just received and have been looking through the Joyce letters. I see that you say that I may have been the ‘culprit’ responsible for giving Joyce’s outline of Ulysses for the Random House edition. I know nothing about this.  

When Judge John M. Woolsey lifted the American ban on Ulysses in 1933, Bennett Cerf’s Random House published the first authorized edition of the work just fifty days later, on 25 January 1934. The edition included Woolsey’s “Opinion A. 110-59,” a letter from Joyce to Cerf on the history of Ulysses’ battles with the censors, and an editorial “Foreward” by Morris Ernst who evaluated the significance of Woolsey’s action. Ernst declared:

“The precedent he has established will do much to rescue the mental pabulum of the public from the censors who have striven to convert it into treacle, and will help to make it the strong, provocative fare it ought to be.”

Laid into the volume was Random House’s advertisement and guide to the notoriously difficult work, “How to Enjoy Ulysses” (item 100). Cerf had also hoped to reproduce Joyce’s famous “schema” but the author refused, and no version of it was issued in the edition. As Wilson wrote to Ellmann, the schema had appeared “in a curiously incomplete form” in Stuart Gilbert’s book. The  schema shown here, tipped onto the rear flyleaf of Wilson’s No. 616 of the first Shakespeare and Company edition,  was prepared by Gorman and most closely resembles Gorman’s own, now in the Croessmann Joyce Collection at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. As Wilson wrote Ellmann: “Herbert Gorman gave me a copy of it once when he had just come back from Paris, and I pasted it in my Ulysses. I much later gave a copy to some student of Joyce – I can’t remember who. Have you any reason for believing that this got into the hands of the Random House people?”
 

87 Photograph of Cyril Connolly, [c. 1950] ~ Cyril Connolly Papers
(96K)

Cyril Connolly, a Londoner of Irish decent, was an editor of the New Statesman and the literary magazine, Horizon, a novelist, an accomplished literary critic, essayist, and a collector. Connolly’s passion for collecting books drove him into debt and as a result, he sold many of his fine editions and collections over the years as the need arose. Tellingly, Connolly himself joked that the memorial for his death should take place at Sotheby’s, where cantors would perform a “sung bibliography” and chant a “wants list.”42 While Connolly’s Enemies of Eden and The Unquiet Grave received significant praise, he is best known as a book reviewer with classical taste. Connolly is pictured here at his desk at the London Sunday Times.
 

88 Cyril Connolly, Manuscript of “The Position of Joyce,” [1929]
~ Cyril Connolly Papers
 

“The Position of Joyce” could hardly have pleased Joyce more: it complemented his fans and derided his foes; applauded his realism and validated his parodies; it was sensitive to the cultural traditions that influenced the man, the literary traditions that influenced the works, and to the author’s innovations, especially in language, that challenged those traditions. Connolly’s essay announced the publication of the third incarnation of Anna Livia Plurabelle: the 1928 Crosby Gaige edition (items 54 & 55). Connolly remained an ardent supporter of Joyce’s works when many other critics, including Edmund Wilson, lost interest or found fault with the extreme experimentalism of the later works, especially Finnegans Wake. Ten years after Joyce had met him, Connolly was no longer the young, intimidated critic. As a prominent voice in London’s literary circles, Connolly was invited in 1937 to present lectures for the BBC program, “We Speak to India,” and he chose to discuss Joyce. Connolly’s tribute to the author whose works had engaged him as a young student and as an established critic appeared in the New Statesman on 18 January 1941, just five days after Joyce’s death.
 

89

Joyce’s Recording of Anna Livia Plurabelle,  [August 1929]
~ Paul & Lucie Lčon Collection

Anna Livia Plurabelle. The Orthological Institute, Cambridge, UK. Sound disc, 12 inches.
(150K)

Joyce and C.K. Ogden were both fascinated by language, although they followed that interest in different directions. Joyce went to the Orthological Institute at 10 King’s Parade, Cambridge to read into Ogden’s “big recording machine.” Sylvia Beach tells us that there were in fact two versions of the first recording because Joyce faltered in his reading, even with his prodigious memory and a photographically enlarged script from which he read.43 Ogden strictly instructed that his record should be played with an “extra long steel needle.” According to Slocum and Cahoon, additional pressings of this record were issued under the Argus Bookshop, His Master’s Voice, and Gotham Book Mart labels.
 

90 Letter from J.M. Hone to Richard Ellmann, 9 October 1954
~ Richard Ellmann Papers

J.M. Hone, 4 Winton Road, Dublin, to Richard Ellmann, 9 October 1954. ALS, 3 pp.
 

Before writing the biography, Ellmann published several shorter studies on Joyce’s works, including the 1954 article in the Kenyon Review entitled, “Backgrounds of Ulysses,” to which Hone refers in this letter. Joseph Maunsell Hone (1882-1959) was an Irishman and fellow Protestant Revivalist and biographer of W.B. Yeats and editor of J. B. Yeats’s letters to his son. Hone had written on Joyce’s Ulysses when it first appeared in 1922 and expressed his appreciation of the work and its author as distinctly Irish creations: “For us in Ireland Mr. Joyce’s significance lies in this, that he is the first man of literary genius, expressing himself in perfect freedom that Catholic Ireland has produced in modern time. Mr. Joyce is as Irish as M. Anatole France […] is French. It was perhaps not really strange that when this writer did appear, his implied criticism of Irish life should be so much bolder than anything that could be found in the books of his Protestant contemporaries. Certainly no Irish Protestant writer was likely to have expressed the secular Irish emotions of politics and religion with Mr. Joyce’s passionate force and understanding and his entire lack of sentimentality.”44 Writing to correct or refine a few points in Ellmann’s 1954 article, Hone reminded Ellmann in this letter of the religious and class divisions of Joyce’s Dublin: “Joyce’s Dublin is really only a small slice of the town, the shabby-genteel Catholic-bred slice of the North Side. Bohemianish. Its very existence would have been unknown to, say, a Dubliner like J. B. Yeats.”
 

91 Ulysses, 1969 ~ Richard Ellmann Library

JAMES JOYCE | ULYSSES | WITH | ULYSSES : A SHORT HISTORY | BY RICHARD ELLMANN | [publisher’s device] | PENGUIN BOOKS | in association with The Bodley Head
 (108K)  (162K)

Contents: p. [1], [biographical information about Joyce]; p. [2], blank; p. [3], title-page; p. [4], [publisher’s, printer’s, and copyright statements]; p. [5], PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF ULYSSES [list of ten editions]; p. [6], blank; p. [7], half-title; p. [8], blank; pp. 9–[704], text; pp. 705–[719], text of ULYSSES: A SHORT HISTORY ; p. [720], CORRESPONDING PAGES IN | OLD AND NEW EDITIONS ; published 1969 by Penguin Books Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England; printed by Hazell Watson & Viney Ltd.; bound in white paper covers, 19.6 x 12.8 cm., printed in black on front cover: James | Joyce | Ulysses [in reserve]; and printed in light green on spine: James Joyce [in reserve] Ulysses ; and on back cover: [black and white sketch of the author by Augustus John with caption] | [prices of edition]; printed on white wove paper, 19.6 x 12.8 cm. 

This is Richard Ellmann’s own annotated copy of Ulysses. Ten years after completing his monumental biography of Joyce, Ellmann was uniquely qualified to distill the history of Joyce’s composition of the novel into the fourteen page essay accompanying this Penguin Modern Classics edition. Over the course of his career, Ellmann contributed forwards, introductions, notes, commentary and essays to dozens of critical works on Joyce’s literature. Ellmann’s longer studies of Joyce’s works include Yeats and Joyce (1967), Ulysses on the Liffey (1972), The Consciousness of Joyce (1977), and Four Dubliners (1987).
 

92 Finnegans Wake, 1945 ~ Richard Ellmann Library

FINNEGANS | WAKE | James Joyce | New York: The Viking Press | 1939. Fourth printing, 1945. Includes list of corrections to the text. 643 pp.
 (105K)   (223K)

This is Richard Ellmann’s copy of a later printing of the first American edition which was issued simultaneously with the Faber & Faber English edition (item 76). This is his working copy of Joyce’s last work, here open to pp. 262–63, which he read, used, and annotated so heavily that he resorted to taping the covers together when the binding broke. Unlike the Joyce books in the Connolly or even Wilson libraries, Ellmann’s Joyce books are part of his scholar’s library and are almost all dog-eared and worn.
 

93  Five Letters between Richard Ellmann & Ellsworth Mason, 1953–54 ~ Richard Ellmann & Ellsworth Mason Papers
 

1) Richard Ellmann to Ellsworth Mason, February 1953. TLS, 2 pp.; 2) Ellmann, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois to Mason, 14 February 1953. TLS, 1 p.; 3) Mason to Ellmann, 13 October 1954. TLS, 3 pp.; 4) Ellmann, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois to Mason, 25 October 1954. TLS, 2 pp.; 5) Mason, 315 Sunset Rd., Colorado Springs to Ellmann, 26 October 1954. TLS, 2 pp.

I’ve fallen into the habit of saying I’m doing a biography of Joyce, but am trying to keep my head above water for a few months more till I understand the situation better. (Ellmann to Mason, February 1953)

Richard Ellmann gave us James Joyce. He devoted seven years, from 1952 to 1959, to crafting his portrait of the artist, just as Joyce had labored seven long years to recreate his panorama of Dublin in Ulysses. Ellmann recognized the difficulty of undertaking the biography and approached the task tentatively at first. He wrote to his colleague, friend, and fellow Joyce enthusiast, Ellsworth Mason: “I think I would like to do a complete biography, but I begin to fear that insuperable difficulties may get in the way. I am still hopeful, however, that things may become easier once I get to Europe. If I can’t do a complete job, I’d like to do the Irish years. If I can’t do either, I hope to write an article or two. The trouble with doing the Irish period alone is that I learned in my work on Yeats that the later life made many things clearer about the early, and in getting at so difficult a temperament as Joyce’s you perhaps have to know everything there is to be known.”45  When he had finished, Ellmann’s biography of Joyce was 887 pages long, over 150 pages longer than Ulysses and 100 more than Finnegans Wake.

Stan Joyce’s comments were amusing and pungent, but I am perverse enough to say that I’d be very interested in what old Mrs. Fleming would have to say about the Joyces. […] Have you any leads in Ireland you could suggest? […] There must be garbage collectors, dung-buriers, sextons, and other arse-wipers who will shed cloacal light (or odour) on His Sublimity, J.J. (Ellmann to Mason, 14 February 1953)

Both Ellmann and his subject, Joyce, based their works on extensive historical, topographical, and social research and both works will always serve as a prism on their subjects: through Ulysses we can revisit 1904 Dublin, through James Joyce we can encounter James Joyce. For both experiences we rely on the mediation of these authors. In spite of Ellmann’s initially jocular attitude toward his fact-finding missions, the discovery and elaboration of the details of Joyce’s life proved difficult. Ellmann wrote Mason: “I’m amused that you think my biographical details reflect a fine time in Ireland—they reflect a most painful and often embarrassing series of interrogations.”46 

Throw the directory and biography and landscape at me, and you have not begun to get at the heart of Ulysses, which is Bloom, in a large sense Joyce’s very creative concept of humanity. (Mason to Ellmann, 13 October 1954)

Ellmann relied upon many others to construct his portrait of Joyce, just as Joyce relied upon so many others to create his masterpieces. Joyce and Ellmann both shared an uncanny attention to detail that enriched their writings. Both molded historical detail to make a seemingly realistic representation of historical fact: they were skilled at creatively filling-in what they could not easily document. Both relied upon details of fact and fiction in order to enhance their vision of their subject and to create a realistic experience for their readers. For example, Joyce’s reliance on Thom’s Directory on the one hand and Greek mythology on the other are mirrored in Ellmann’s research in history or interviews with those who knew Joyce on the one hand, and his easy recourse to Joyce’s fiction to fill biographical gaps on the other. Mason, whose opinions Ellmann sought regularly, took issue with what he saw as Ellmann’s tendencies to confound the biography and the works by using documentary facts to explain Joyce’s literature, and by using details set forth in the literature to explain Joyce’s life. As he wrote Ellmann, “[…] you make Joyce out as far less inventive than he actually was. Say what you want, up through the Portrait, in Ulysses invention is the dominant thing. […] Add up all of O Connell St., and you have not begun to tell me how in hell he ever manages to breathe such life into Dublin as a city […]. Fact does not liberate Joyce’s genius […].” But Ellmann rightly maintained that a fact was often the impetus to innovation, the liberation of Joyce’s genius, and as he explained to Mason, “[…] this is not intended to mean that he is all facts, only that he feels it necessary to start from them.”47

I don’t quite understand what you mean about playing a duet with Joyce in my biography of him—surely the role of the biographer is not adulation but a painful uncovery of an accurate picture; obviously if I treat him as a second-rate writer I will not be accurate. To treat him as a human being seems to me however fairly necessary. (Ellmann to Mason, 25 October 1954).

Ellmann had described his work on the biography to Mason as a portrait de deux, and as he came to explain in the preface to James Joyce, “We are still learning to be James Joyce’s contemporaries, to understand our interpreter. This book enters Joyce’s life to reflect his complex, incessant joining of event and composition.”48 Ellmann sought to mirror his own method of writing the biography on the creative process he attributed to Joyce: and so like Joyce’s own work, Ellmann’s James Joyce reflects “his complex, incessant joining of event and composition.” In a letter to Ellmann, Mason described Ellmann’s biographical method as “a certain tendency to identify the plausible with the actual,” and he suggested that “while you make connections between items with a great deal of logic and imagination and plausibility, you still fall short of establishing the fact that this is how the events actually occurred.”49 Like Mason before them, the subsequent generations of Joyce scholars continue to debate the method and authority of Ellmann’s now standard interpretation, recognizing that to better understand Joyce, they must come to better understand his interpreter.

In short, you head into the central problem of historical research […] you are working in that shadowy realm, it is a hell of a job. (Mason to Ellmann, 26 October 1954)

Ultimately, Ellmann wrote what has been relied upon as the definitive biography, the touchstone and foundation of all subsequent scholarship, the locus classicus of so much of what we can say about Joyce. Mason quipped to Ellmann: “I hereby predict that your errors about Joyce will be the last to depart from this earth,”50 and he may not have been far off the mark. Ellmann had a monopoly on the fundamentals of Joyce scholarship: he established the chronology that others continue to refine, the facts that others corroborate or refute. But what was once Ellmann’s exclusive windfall of Joycean material is now archived and accessible to research. And the published work, James Joyce, contains only a fragment of what Ellmann gathered and produced for the biography. Since we cannot return to Joyce’s times, cannot re-interview those who knew him or of him, the Ellmann archive is an irreplaceable, primary resource. In the Richard Ellmann Papers is also, of course, the archive of one of modernism’s most significant biographers and teachers who not only gave us James Joyce but also Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats.
 

94 Thom’s Directory, 1907 ~ Richard Ellmann Library

THOM’S | OFFICIAL DIRECTORY | OF THE | UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND: | FOR THE YEAR | 1907. |COMPRISING | BRITISH, FOREIGN, AND COLONIAL DIRECTORIES. |PARLIAMENTARY DIRECTORY. | PEERAGE, BARONETAGE, AND KNIGHTAGE DIRECTORY. | NAVAL AND MILITARY DIRECTORY. | STATISTICS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND. | GOVERNMENT OFFICES’ DIRECTORY | UNIVERSITY, SCIENTIFIC, AND MEDICAL DIRECTORY. | LAW DIRECTORY. | ECCLESIASTICAL DIRECTORY. | BANKING DIRECTORY. POSTAL DIRECTORY. | COUNTY AND BOROUGH DIRECTORY. | LIEUTENANCY AND MAGISTRACY OF IRELAND. | POST OFFICE DUBLIN CITY AND COUNTY DIRECTORY, | With New Coloured Map of Dublin and its Environs. | [rule] | Sixtieth-fourth Annual Publication. | [rule] | DUBLIN: | ALEX. THOM & CO. (Limited), 87, 88, & 89, MIDDLE ABBEY-STREET. | LONGMANS & CO., SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT & CO., (Limited), LONDON. | [rule] | MDCCCCVII. | Price Twenty-one Shillings. 2212 pp. with 60 pp. advertisement section. Folding map in pocket at front. 
(204K)

Thom’s directory was indispensable to Joyce as he attempted to recreate the city and environs of Dublin 1904. Since he had long departed the city, Thom’s enabled Joyce not only to check the accuracy of his own memory, but to invent with authority: to name the names, address the events, and cite the conditions of a Dublin passed, bringing Stephen and Bloom’s world into sharp focus. The 1907 volume shown here belonged to Richard Ellmann.
 

95

Letter from Harriet Shaw Weaver to Richard Ellmann,
20 February 1958 ~ Richard Ellmann Papers
 

Harriet Weaver, Castle End, Saffron Walden, Essex, England to Richard Ellmann, 20 February 1958. TLS, 2 pp.

…you mentioned that your book was now 750 pages long, with twelve years to go and that you found the last years almost unmanageable but were struggling on to find a pattern in them. This has made me remember the long letters I had from time to time from Mr. Paul Léon who was a wonderfully good friend to Mr. Joyce and of enormous help to him.

Even before she become the executrix of his estate, Harriet Weaver was one of Joyce’s first archivists. In the hundreds of letters Joyce sent her over the long course of their relationship is a record of Joyce’s travels, the progress of his work and the often intimate details of his daily life. Gorman asked Weaver for a selection of those letters as he was writing his biography of Joyce, and again in 1958, Weaver was in position to aid yet another biographer. Weaver gave Ellmann a list of dates during which Joyce had traveled outside Paris. Here, she offered Ellmann the tremendous benefit of her correspondence with Paul Léon who had become Joyce’s closest friend and  aide in the author’s last years.
 

96 Hughes Guestbook, 1924-1970

Herbert and Suzanne Hughes Guestbook 1924–70. 76 pp. of autographs, playbills, invitations, clippings, letters and a manuscript poem; leatherbound, 20.5 x 26 cm.
(150K)

C.K. Ogden brought Joyce and Herbert Hughes together in the late 1920s and they remained close. The Joyce Book, a compilation of Joyce’s poetry set to music, is Hughes’ tribute to Joyce. Thirteen composers joined together, each setting one of the poems in Joyce’s Pomes Penyeach (item 41). The Hugheses entertained often and kept a guest book recording the myriad of musicians, poets, painters, novelists, and critics who passed though their home. Leafing though the book as she wrote to Ellmann on 21 April 1960, Suzanne Hughes recalled, “On the 5th of August 1930 we had a little party for J. J., Nora, and Lucia.” They invited Arthur Bliss, the composer of the music for the poem “Simples” in The Joyce Book, and the guest book, shown here, is open to the page on which guests of this August party signed. In the same letter, Hughes generously offered Ellmann more:  “I will tell you later about our dinner party. J. J., Nora, H. H., myself and Robert and Sylvia Lynd dining at Scotts in Piccadilly after which Robert wrote an article for the New Statesman signed J.J.” Details such as these were of enormous help to Ellmann in tracing out and giving shape to Joyce’s life and in turn, his biography spurred the memories of so many who knew Joyce.
 

97

James Joyce, 1959 ~ Paul and Lucie Léon Collection

JAMES | RICHARD ELLMANN | JOYCE | [publisher’s device] | NEW YORK · OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS  · 1959
(115K)

Contents: p. [i], half-title; p. [ii], [portrait of Joyce by Constantin Brancusi]; p. [iii], title-page; p. [iv], copyright and printer’s statement, p. [v], dedication: TO George Yeats ; p. [vi], blank; p. vii–xi, PREFACE ; p. [xii], blank; pp. xiii–[xiv], CONTENTS ; p. xv–xvi, ILLUSTRATIONS ; pp. 1–756, text; pp. 757–817, NOTES ; p. [818], blank; pp. 819–21, FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ; p. [822], blank; pp. 823–42, INDEX ; pp. [843–46], blank. $12.50; bound in blue cloth over boards, 23.5 x 16.5 cm., with blue and gold head and tail bands, blind and gilt stamped on front cover: JOYCE | [rule] and on spine: JAMES | JOYCE | [rule] | ELLMANN | OXFORD ;  printed on white wove paper, 22.8 x 15.2 cm. Issued in dust-jacket printed in blue, black and brown with a photograph of James Joyce by Gisele Freund on the back cover.  

When Ellmann finally completed his monumental biography, James Joyce, Oxford University Press advertised it as the product of a “scholarly odyssey.” The 842 page tome included thirty half-tone photographs and was sold, cloth-bound, for $12.50 as its publisher marketed it as the long awaited disclosure of the century’s greatest literary mystery. This was the product of “literary detective work” through which Ellmann “discovered, among other things, the actual woman who inspired the character of Molly Bloom” and thus captured “the most elusive of contemporary artists.”  Ellmann’s “odyssey” did not end with the publication of the first edition, however. From the moment the book was released, Ellmann received letter after letter offering congratulations, corrections, clarifications, and new information about the people and places that populated Joyce’s world. Ellmann revised and enlarged the biography for publication in 1982, including 87 more illustrations. Ellmann signed and inscribed this copy of the first edition of James Joyce: “To Lucie Léon with gratitude and good wishes, Richard Ellmann 11 September 1959.”
 

98 Letter from Suzanne Hughes to Richard Ellmann, 21 April 1960
~ Richard Ellmann Papers

Suzanne Hughes, The Landsdowne Club, Berkeley Square, W.1 [London] to Richard Ellmann, 21 April 1960. ALS, 6 pp.
 

I would be very interested to know how I became transfused into Gertie McDowall.

Though Ellmann corresponded with dozens of Joyce’s friends and family, gathering details and checking his facts for the biography, the publication of the finished work in 1959 began a new cycle of correspondence. Readers of James Joyce wrote to review Ellmann’s work, and often to correct what they thought to be errors, gaps, or inventions, as Suzanne Hughes did in this letter. Suzanne McKernan Hughes was the wife of composer and music critic Herbert Hughes, and she had known Joyce in Dublin when her brothers were Joyce’s Belvedere schoolmates. Ellmann had referred to McKernan on page 77 in the first edition of the biography: “Ibsen’s unexpected message arrived at Richmond Ave. While Joyce was swinging with a girl from across the street, Suzie McKernan, whose lameness became an aspect of Gerty McDowell in the Nausicaa episode.”  While she had read the biography “with great pleasure, delight, and admiration,” Hughes was confused: “there are a few queries I would like to raise with you because I am or was Susie McKernan […] I am not and never was lame,” Hughes wrote, and  “I would be very interested to know how I became transfused into Gertie McDowall.” Though Ellmann did not incorporate all the corrections he received, he saw to it that Susie McKernan was no longer the model for the lame Gerty in his revised 1982 edition, but just “the girl from across the street.”


BACKCATALOGUE HOMEONLINE EXHIBITSNEXT

© Web Design & Images the University of Tulsa.
©Text Luca Crispi & Stacey Herbert.