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The Budgen Collection

Budgen and Joyce

Frank Budgen (1882 – 1971) was an English writer and painter who lived in Switzerland during the First World War. He met James Joyce in Zurich in 1918, after their mutual friend, Horace Taylor, insisted that they meet. Over the next two years, Budgen and Joyce met almost daily to walk, talk, and drink wine. During these meetings they discussed Ulysses, the novel Joyce was then writing. In his memoir James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses, Budgen describes the first time he met Joyce.

“I saw a tall slender man come into the garden through the restaurant. Swinging a thin cane he walked deliberately down the steps to the gravelled garden path. He was a dark mass against the orange light of the restaurant glass door, but he carried his head with the chin uptilted so that his face collected cool light from the sky. His walk as he came slowly across to us suggested that of a wading heron.”

The two developed a strong bond and friendship, one so comfortable and trusting that Joyce used Budgen as a sounding board while writing many of his great works, most notably Ulysses. Over the years, Budgen amassed a large library of works written by and about Joyce, and went on to write his own account of their friendship. He detailed their friendship in his memoirs and continued to collect books and other materials relating to Joyce. Many of the items he received contain handwritten notes from the authors, including Joyce himself.

In 2012, his daughter, Joan Budgen, donated a portion of his library to the James Joyce Centre. The collection includes 23 books and related ephemera, 3 original sketches, and 1 audio tape cassette.

“The books…came from the library of my father, Frank Budgen, and, when he died in 1971, I inherited them. He was a close friend of James Joyce, especially during the years of the writing of Ulysses in Zurich, about which he wrote in James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses.” Joan Budgen, 25 July 2012