On this day…12 April

On 12 April 1915 Eileen Joyce married Frantisek Schaurek.

Eileen Joyce was engaged to Frantisek Schaurek in April 1914 and they married in the Cathedral of San Giusto, Trieste, on 12 April 1915 with Joyce acting as best man.

Joyce’s sister Eileen had come to Trieste in 1910 where, with her sister Eva, she helped look after Joyce’s two children. She also worked for a time as a governess. She met Frantisek Schaurek while he was taking English lessons from Joyce. Schaurek, who was Czech, worked as a cashier in a bank in Trieste, and he and Eileen Joyce got engaged in April 1914.

Eileen wrote to her father in Dublin with the news of her engagement. At the time, John Joyce was in a convalescent home in Drumcondra but he wrote to Joyce, enclosing a letter for Eileen, and also asking Joyce and Stanislaus to ensure Eileen was not doing anything that would mar her future. He claimed that Eileen was the only one of his daughters who had never treated him with contempt.

They waited a year before marrying but even then Joyce thought they should postpone the wedding until war was over, probably out of concern that Schaurek would be called up for military service. They asked Joyce to act as best man and typically he had to borrow a dress suit for the occasion. The suit came from the German teacher at the Berlitz School who was bigger than Joyce, so that Joyce attended the wedding in an ill-fitting suit.

The ceremony took place in the Cathedral of San Giusto in Trieste on Monday 12 April 1915.

Shortly afterwards, Eileen and her husband went to Prague. Schaurek was called up for military service, but was discharged on medical grounds. They continued to live in Prague during the war and their first daughter, Bozena Berta, was born there on 9 February 1917. She was named after Beatrice and Bertha, the two lead female characters in Joyce’s play Exiles. A second daughter, Eleonora, known as Nora, was born later.

The Schaureks returned to Trieste after the war but the marriage seems not to have been a happy one. By the mid-1920s it seems that Schaurek had begun embezzling money at the bank where he worked, and in November 1926 he committed suicide. Eileen, who had been in Dublin at the time, refused to believe it when she was told and she insisted that the body be exhumed. She returned to Ireland in 1928.


Sources & Further Reading:

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – New and Revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

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