James Joyce is widely considered a national treasure of Ireland. Known for such classics as “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” and “Dubliners”, he will forever be inextricably linked to his master work “Ulysses” detailing the exploits of one Stephen Dedalus over the course of a day in Dublin.
Joyce’s life itself would make for a fascinating story as there is much about the author unknown even to his most ardent fans.
Here are ten fascinating things you may have not known about the legendary scribe:
1. The character Molly Bloom in his novel “Ulysses” is based on his wife Nora Barnacle from Galway. The novel even takes place on June 16th (otherwise known as “Bloomsday”) or the day Joyce met his future wife in 1904.
2. Joyce studied Dano-Norwegian at University College Dublin in order to to be able to read the work of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen in its original form.
3. He left Ireland for Paris after completing his studies in 1902, originally moving there to study medicine.
4. The Irishman settled with his family in Pola, Austria-Hungary in 1904 but was expelled soon after in 1905 when the government uncovered a spy ring.
5. Joyce taught English at the Berlitz school of language in Trieste, Italy.
6. Joyce adopted Italian as his at-home language, having learned it while living in Italy
7. He returned to Ireland in 1909 to open Dublin’s first movie theater, the Cinematograph Volta on 45 Mary Street. Featuring Italian and European movies unpopular with the Dubliners, the cinema shut its doors in 1919.
8. Joyce’s former Irish teacher, Patrick Pearse, was one of the leaders of the April 24th 1916 Easter Uprising and considered to be “President of the Provincial Government” of the Republic of Ireland.
9. Joyce underwent over 25 eye surgeries in his lifetime.
10. Before his book “Ulysses” was legally published in America in 1934, hundreds of illicit copies were seized and burned by the US Post office in the 1920s.
Here is a video documenting Joyce’s favorite adopted city of Trieste, Italy.