On this day…13 March

On 13 March 1925 Joyce contributed a short letter to This Quarter.

This Quarter was the initiative of Ernest Walsh, a thirty-year-old would-be poet, and Ethel Moorhead, a Scottish Suffragette. The magazine, edited by Walsh and funded by Moorhead, was mainly to be a vehicle for Walsh’s own poetry but its first three issues also contained work by prominent writers of the day, including Joyce.

Walsh had written to Joyce early in 1925 soliciting a piece for his magazine. Joyce was undergoing eye operations at the time and didn’t have anything ready, but promised a piece for a future edition. Instead, he sent Walsh a letter dated 13 March 1925 in which he applauded Walsh’s decision to dedicate the first issue of This Quarter to Ezra Pound.

In his letter, Joyce acknowledged that he owed a great debt to Pound who, he said, had helped him in the face of great difficulty, and who had always been helpful with advice and appreciation. The letter was reproduced photographically in the first issue of This Quarter in May 1925.

The second issue of This Quarter (Autumn-Winter 1925) published a piece from Joyce’s Work in Progress (the ‘Shem the Penman’ section) along with two photographs of Joyce. One showed him on a couch while the other showed him reading using a magnifying glass while wearing one of the white jackets he’d had made. The same issue also contained part of George Antheil’s unfinished opera, Mr Bloom and the Cyclops, based on the ‘Cyclops’ episode of Ulysses.

Walsh, who suffered from tuberculosis, had moved to the south of France for the sake of his health, and had an affair with Kay Boyle who had recently separated from her husband. Walsh died in Monte Carlo on 16 October 1926 aged just thirty-one. His daughter, Sharon, was born to Kay Boyle early in 1927, and Boyle wrote about her relationship with Walsh in her novel Year Before Last (1932).

Ethel Moorhead brought out a third issue of This Quarter in which she withdrew the dedication of the first issue to Pound. Despite the fact that Pound had allowed three of his ‘Cantos’ to appear in This Quarter, Moorhead felt that he was not grateful enough for Walsh’s efforts.

No further issues of This Quarter appeared until 1929 when Parisian bookseller Edward Titus took over as editor. Several issues followed until it finally ceased publication in 1932.


Sources & Further Reading:

Joyce, James: Letters of James Joyce, vol. III, edited by Richard Ellmann, London: Faber & Faber, 1966.

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