On 6 July 1915 WB Yeats wrote to Edmund Gosse about Joyce’s financial situation.
Yeats had been made aware of Joyce’s financial straits by Ezra Pound, and Yeats wrote to Edmund Gosse seeking assistance from the Royal Literary Fund for Joyce. Thanks to these efforts Joyce was awarded £75 by the Fund.
In writing to Joyce on 3 July 1915, Pound mentioned the possibility of applying to the Royal Literary Fund for assistance for Joyce. The Fund was set up in 1790 to help authors in distress. Its money comes from subscriptions, mainly from other writers, and from royalties from authors’ estates. In the past it has helped authors such as Coleridge, Joseph Conrad, DH Lawrence, Ivy Compton-Burnett, and Joyce.
After writing to Joyce, Pound also wrote to HG Wells and WB Yeats asking them to petition the Fund. On 6 July, Yeats wrote to Edmund Gosse recommending Joyce on the basis of Dubliners and Chamber Music, and especially for his poem ‘I hear an army…’ which had appeared in the anthology The Wild Harp.
In the middle of July Joyce asked his agent to send a copy of Chamber Music to Gosse, and this was followed by another letter from Yeats to Gosse on 24 July. Yeats now told Gosse that he believed Joyce to be a man of genius and compared his Dubliners to the works of the Russian writers. He also commended Chamber Music again, calling it beautiful and technically perfect.
A couple of days later the Secretary of the Fund sent Joyce an application form which Joyce returned at the end of the month along with a statement of his financial circumstances. In the meantime, Yeats and Pound both wrote to the Secretary recommending Joyce for assistance, and Pound went so far as to compare Joyce’s work to that of Flaubert and Stendhal. In August Yeats wrote to Gosse again urging assistance for Joyce, and finally on 25 August the Fund voted to give Joyce £75. The money was paid in three instalments between August 1915 and January 1916.
Sources & Further Reading:
Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – new and revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.
Joyce, James: Letters of James Joyce, vol. II, edited by Richard Ellmann, London: Faber & Faber, 1966.
Norburn, Roger: A James Joyce Chronology, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.