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Read 90 letters James Joyce wrote to his family

Spoiler: Lots of the letters were about Finnegan’s Wake. And they weren’t all in English. Classic Joyce.

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

90 LETTERS BY James Joyce to his family are among the many items from the author that you can now read on the National Library of Ireland’s website.

In honour of Bloomsday, the NLI has announced that it has collaborated with the James Joyce Foundation in Zurich to host digitised versions of the James Joyce manuscripts which it owns.

Where they came from

The manuscripts were bequeathed to the Foundation in Zurich by Professor Hans E Jahnke. Janhnke is the son of James and his wife Nora’s only son Giorgio Joyce’s second wife (hey, this is Joyce, so don’t expect these sentences to be easy), Dr Asta Osterwalder Joyce.

On the site you’ll find 90 letters Joyce wrote to his family, 42 of which relate to his last work, Finnegans Wake. There are also 21 documents of drafts, fair copies and typescripts of poems. Not all of the letters are in English.

Catherine Fahy, Acting Director of the NLI, said that the manuscripts “will offer further insights into the mind of one of the most talented creative writers of the 20th Century”.

Our collaboration with the Zurich-based Foundation has opened the doors for those interested in James Joyce to easily access these materials online, for the purposes of research or private study.

One of the chapters of ‘Ulysses’ – Scylla and Charybdis – is actually set in the National Library’s reading room and features the actual librarians of the day, whom Joyce knew well.

The NLI also houses a large collection of Joycean material, including Copy No 1 of Ulysses, the first copy of the first edition of the novel in 1922.

There is also a collection of manuscript drafts for Ulysses, along with letters between Joyce and a number of correspondents, in the NLI online catalogue.

Read: Bloomsday breakfasts, walks, talks and music celebrate Joyce’s iconic work>

Read: Celebrating 100 years of Dubliners>

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