Celebrate James Joyce’s birthday with these facts about the literary legend

The statue of "Ulysses" author James Joyce in Dublin.

On February 2, 1882, James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born in the Dublin suburb of Rathgar. Of course, he became Ireland's national treasure James Joyce. Known for such classics such 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 16 (otherwise known as “Bloomsday”) or the day Joyce met his future wife in 1904.

Bloomsday in Dublin.

Read more: Recipes inspired by James Joyce's Dublin for Bloomsday.

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.

Henrik Ibsen.

3. He left Ireland for Paris after completing his studies in 1902, originally moving there to study medicine.

Paris at nighttime. Image: Benh LIEU SONG / Wikicommons.

Read more: On the death of James Joyce: From the Guardian, 1941

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 and the Austrian authorities imposed an immediate expulsion order on all aliens.

Joyce was not to spend long in the city before a ban on foreign citizens was put in place.

5. Joyce taught English at the Berlitz school of language in Trieste, Italy.

A plaque honoring James Joyce in Trieste, Italy.

Read more: Top James Joyce quotes in honor of Bloomsday. 

6. Joyce adopted Italian as his at-home language, having learned it while living in Italy. 

A James Joyce actor on Bloomsday in Dublin.

7. He returned to Ireland in 1909 to open Dublin’s first movie theater, the Cinematograph Volta at 45 Mary Street. Featuring Italian and European movies unpopular with the Dubliners, the cinema shut its doors in 1919.

The endevour may have been more successful today ...

8. Joyce’s former Irish teacher, Patrick Pearse, was one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising and considered to be “President of the Provincial Government” of the Republic of Ireland.

Pádraig Pearse. Image: WikiCommons.

9. Joyce underwent over 25 eye surgeries in his lifetime.

James Joyce wearing an eye patch.

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.

Listen to the man himself read from Ulysses:

Read more: Top 50 Irish contemporary books will make sure you’ve always something great to read

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