The National Archives, as part of its contribution to Archive Awareness Month, has produced an online exhibition of documents relating to James Joyce, his family and friends, and his fiction. Earlier this year, the centenary of Bloomsday, 16 June 1904, was celebrated all over the world. Bloomsday is the day on which Joyce’s Ulysses, probably the most important novel of the twentieth century, is set, giving us the actions, thoughts and memories of Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, Molly Bloom and a host of other characters as they make their way around Dublin. Roy Foster, a well-known opponent of historical commemorations, has said that he can approve of Bloomsday because it commemorates a fictional rather than a real event.
The National Archives does not hold literary papers, and the great Joyce archival collections are elsewhere, most notably in the National Library of Ireland. However, our holdings include documents relating to Irish people in general – census records, wills, official correspondence, school records – and from these we have chosen a selection of records which illustrate aspects of the lives of the Joyce family, and of some of the real characters who appear in Ulysses. We have augmented these with extracts fromThom’s Dublin Street Directories (the Thom’s Directory for 1904 was one of Joyce’s essential tools while writing Ulysses). We hope that these documents will provide useful and interesting information about one of our greatest writers, and also alert viewers to the riches available in the National Archives relating to family, administrative and legal history.
Please note the following points in relation to this cyber exhibition:
The exhibition consists of the following components: an introduction, a series of commentaries on the individual documents and an online gallery of digitised documents drawn from record series in the National Archives.
The thumbnails which feature throughout the commentary pages can be enlarged to full size by double-clicking on the images themselves – to return to the associated commentary page, click the “Back” button on the menu bar rather than the “Close this window” button.
To browse the “James Joyce and Ulysses” exhibition, please click on the following navigation links: