Early Life

James Augustine Joyce, born on February 2, 1882, was the oldest of the ten surviving children of John and Mary Joyce. Although John Joyce had a steady job until 1892, his financial irresponsibility and heavy drinking drew the family ever deeper into poverty. From 1892 onward, the Joyce family moved frequently, pursued by financial difficulties. Young James Joyce showed a keen intellect and attention to detail; his father once said of him, “If that fellow was dropped in the middle of the Sahara, he’d sit, be God, and make a map of it.” James loved to arrange little plays, at one point casting his brother Stanislaus as Adam, his sister Margaret as Eve, and himself as the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Resolved to give his oldest son the best education in Ireland, John Joyce sent James to Clongowes Wood College, a Jesuit school forty miles away, where James started in September 1888, at the age of six. The quality of the author’s education remained a point of pride for him in later years.

Items Exhibited in the Early Life Section

James Joyce. “Trust Not Appearances,” ca. 1893.

James Joyce. Epiphanies (in Stanislaus Joyce’s hand), ca. 1903.

James Joyce. Letter to Henrik Ibsen. March, 1901. [view]

James Joyce. Manuscript fragment from “The Holy Office.” 1905.

George Harris Healey. Home of the Joyce Family at 7 St. Peter’s Road, Phibsborough, Dublin, 1960. [view]
Gelatin silver print

James Joyce in a Sailor Suit, Age 6. Dublin, 1888.
Cabinet card photograph
Courtesy of the Poetry Collection, SUNY at Buffalo

Constantine P. Curran. James Joyce Standing beside a Greenhouse. Dublin, 1904.
Toned gelatin silver print photograph
Courtesy of the Poetry Collection, SUNY at Buffalo

James Joyce, Age 6, with his Mother, Father, and Maternal Grandfather. Dublin, 1888.
Copy print inscribed by James Joyce, Paris, November 27, 1925.
Courtesy of the Poetry Collection, SUNY at Buffalo

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