On this day…9 October

On 9 October 1906 Joyce updated his brother about Chamber Music amongst other things.


In a lengthy letter to Stanislaus from Rome, Joyce wrote that he had heard from Arthur Symons to whom he had sent his collection of poems Chamber Music. Symons started his letter by offering Joyce advice on his growing difficulties with publisher Grant Richards in relation to Dubliners, and he emphasised to Joyce ‘The great thing is to get published so that people may have a chance of reading you.’


Symons proposed to offer Chamber Music to Elkin Mathews who might publish it in his Garland series, but he warned Joyce that there would probably be little money from it apart from a small royalty after Mathews’ expenses had been covered. Once the book was published, Symons said, he would review it in Saturday or the Athenaeum, and he offered to get others to review it as well. Joyce told Stanislaus that he had accepted Symons’ proposal and by 18 October 1906 Joyce had heard that Mathews wanted to contact Joyce directly and to see the manuscript of the poems.


In his letter of 9 October, Joyce revealed some of his doubts about Chamber Music. He told Stanislaus ‘I take very little interest in the publication of the verses,’ but added that he saw no reason not to publish them and asked Stanislaus for his opinion. ‘I suppose they have some merit,’ Joyce claimed, ‘and perhaps, if they sold, I might make ten or twenty pounds out of them next year.’


Joyce was, perhaps, more interested in the money he might make than in the poems themselves, or in the order in which they might appear. In this letter, he asked Stanislaus to let him know how he would order the poems, and it is Stanislaus’ ordering that editions have followed since the first publication in 1907.



Joyce, James: Letters of James Joyce, vol. I edited by Stuart Gilbert, vols II & III edited by Richard Ellmann, London: Faber & Faber, 1957, 1966.

– -: Poems & Shorter Writings, edited by Richard Ellmann, A Walton Litz & John Whittier-Ferguson, London: Faber & Faber, 1991.

– -: Poems & Exiles, edited with an Introduction and Notes by JCC Mays, London: Penguin Books, 1992.

Norburn, Roger: A James Joyce Chronology, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

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