On this day…2 January

On 2 January 1910 Joyce left Dublin with his sister Eileen.

Joyce, who had been in Dublin since October 1909 in connection with the opening of the Volta Cinema, brought his sister Eileen back to Trieste with him on 2 January 1910.

While Joyce was on a visit home to Dublin in the summer of 1909, he had felt sorry for the plight of his five sisters whose prospects in Dublin were not great. During that visit Joyce organised for Eileen to have singing lessons as she had a good but untrained voice.

Joyce also decided to bring one of his sisters back to Trieste with him to try and give her a new start outside of Dublin. Joyce thought Mabel should go, but Margaret, who had been looking after the Joyce household since their mother’s death in 1903, decided it should be Eva, whose stout religious beliefs might influence Joyce. Joyce brought Eva back to Trieste in mid-September 1909, and it was she, impressed by the cinemas in Trieste, who suggested to Joyce the idea of opening a cinema in Dublin.

Back in Dublin in October with the finance for the cinema, Joyce was again deeply affected by his sisters’ situation and he determined to bring Eileen back to Trieste with him, despite the fact that Eva was already complaining of homesickness. By November Joyce had bought boots and an overcoat for Eileen in preparation for taking her with him to Trieste where he intended she would continue training her voice.

Joyce announced his plan to his brother Stanislaus who, of course, would have to come up with the money. It would only cost £10 for the fare for both of them and he reckoned that Eileen and Eva would be able to manage together until the end of January, at which time he’d have money enough to send Eva home to Dublin on her own. (As it happened, Eva stayed in Trieste until July 1911.)

Throughout December 1909, in numerous letters to Stanislaus, Joyce kept counting down the days to their departure and reminding Stanislaus that they needed more money. On 14 December he reminded him there were only fifteen days to go to their departure and, at the same time, he wrote to Nora to get her to make the necessary arrangements, for instance that Eileen and Eva would have to share a bed for a while at least.

On 20 December Joyce wrote to Nora to say he didn’t know how he was going to manage Eileen’s fare, and on 23 December he asked her to urge Stanislaus to help get the two of them back from Dublin. Writing to Stanislaus at the same time, he declared that ‘This is such a dreadful house that it is a God’s act to rescue Eileen from it. Let us try to manage it.’

On Sunday 2 January 1910 Joyce and Eileen left Dublin for Trieste.


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.