On 9 July 1912 Nora Barnacle went to Maunsel & Company’s offices.
Having arrived in Dublin the day before, Nora visited the offices of Maunsel & Company on Tuesday 9 July 1912 accompanied by John and Charles Joyce. Joyce had asked her to see if she could find out what was holding up publication of Dubliners which had been with Maunsel & Company for nearly three years.
Joyce had first sent the manuscript of Dubliners to Maunsel & Company in April 1909. Up to that, Joyce had not wanted to have his book published by an Irish company, and had even asked Elkin Mathews not to send Dubliners to Maunsel & Company in February 1908. But by April 1909 Dubliners had been rejected by a large number of English publishers and Joyce sent the manuscript to Maunsel & Company.
When Joyce visited Dublin in 1909 he met with Joseph Hone and George Roberts of Maunsel & Company and signed a contract with them on 19 August, expecting the book to be published in spring 1910. Joyce corrected the proofs in June 1910 and the printer, John Falconer, printed the 1000 copies in July. The book, however, remained unpublished and publication kept getting postponed. Joyce threatened legal action and wrote ‘A Curious History,’ an account of the problems he’d encountered in trying to get Dubliners published.
By the summer of 1912, Joyce had lost patience with Maunsel & Company. Nora was visiting Ireland to see her family and Joyce asked her to call to Roberts to find out what was going on. Nora reported on her meeting with Roberts in a letter she wrote to Joyce as soon as she arrived in Galway on 11 July. In the letter she referred to Roberts sarcastically as a charming gentleman, and said that she had asked him what he meant by treating Joyce in the way he had. Then John Joyce took over, and Roberts addressed only John Joyce, telling him that he was very busy and that they should come back some other time.
Nora said that she and Charley had gone back twice the next day, but the wily Roberts managed to evade them both times. Nora told Joyce that Charley was going to call again to try and pin Roberts down, and that Charley would write directly to Joyce. She hoped Charley might be able to achieve something, but she also planned to call on Roberts again on her way back through Dublin even though she thought it would be hard to get definite answers from Roberts.
As it happened, Joyce himself arrived in Dublin unexpectedly on 15 August and took matters into his own hands after that.
Sources & Further Reading:
Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – new and revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.
Maddox, Brenda: Nora – A Biography of Nora Joyce, London: Hamish Hamilton, 1988.
Norburn, Roger: A James Joyce Chronology, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.