A Poet Portfolio of James Joyce

James Augustine Joyce was born on the 2nd of February 1882 to a couple in Dublin. Two of his ten siblings died young from typhoid. As a boy, James studied at a boarding school in County Kildare.

When his father could no longer pay the fees, the young Joyce transferred to a Christian Brothers school. However, Joyce rejected Catholicism in 1898 although philosophies of St. Thomas Aquinas became a strong influence in him even after he had left the brothers (Bradley 23).

He studied modern languages at the University College Dublin in 1898. His first published work was a review of Ibsen’s New Drama in 1900 which resulted in a letter of thanks from the Norwegian dramatist himself (Ellmann 13).

Joyce left for Paris immediately after graduating. Unfortunately, he ended up squandering what little fortune his family still had. He returned to Ireland shortly after only to witness the final days of his mother who died of cancer in August 13, 1903. James resorted to heavy drinking after his mothers death, at the same time trying to make a meager living out of reviewing books, teaching and singing (Ellmann 15).

In 1904, he met a young woman from Connemara by the name of Nora Barnacle who worked as a chambermaid who later on became his wife. The couple moved from Dublin and James experienced a great deal of trouble in finding work (Ellmann 16).

James’ two major contributions to poetry are the books Chamber Music which is his first full length collection composed of 36 short lyrics published in 1907 and Pomes Penyeach which was published in twenty years later. (Ellmann 25)

James’ works have been highly scrutinized by several well known personalities in their own right such as Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Jorge Luis Borges, Flann O’Brien, and Samuel Beckett.

He died on the 11th of January 1941 following complications after surgery for a perforated ulcer. James Joyce’s life is annually celebrated as Bloomsday every June 16 in Dublin and in other cities around the world. (Ellmann 20)

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