On 1 July 1905 Joyce finished writing ‘The Boarding House.’
‘The Boarding House’ is the seventh story in Joyce’s Dubliners, but was the fifth story he wrote. The manuscript is dated 1 July 1905.
Three stories by Joyce had already been published in the Irish Homestead magazine in 1904-5, but a fourth story, ‘Hallow Eve’ (later rewritten as ‘Clay’) had not been accepted. In March 1905 Joyce and Nora Barnacle had moved from Pola back to Trieste and Joyce was still working on his novel, Stephen Hero. It was in Trieste in May and June 1905 that ‘The Boarding House’ was written.
For the setting of ‘The Boarding House,’ Joyce chose Hardwicke Street on the north side of the city. The original houses on Hardwicke Street were built in the early nineteenth century, and by the end of the century the street was a mixture of middle class houses and tenements. In 1893, after leaving ‘Leoville’ on Carysfort Avenue, the Joyces last address on the south side of the city, the family moved to 29 Hardwicke Street. They only lived there for a few months before moving again to Fitzgibbon Street, a short distance away.
At the time the Joyces lived on Hardwicke Street, there was a boarding house at number 4, though the exact address of the boarding house in the story is not mentioned. Other locations in the neighbourhood mentioned in the story are St George’s Church, which stands on Hardwicke Place, and St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral on Marlborough Street.
Bob Doran, the unfortunate lodger at the boarding house who is forced into marrying Polly Mooney, daughter of the ‘madam’ of the boarding house, reappears in Ulysses. On 16 June 1904 Doran is on one of his periodical drinking binges, and turns up on a number of occasions in the course of the novel.
Sources & Further Reading:
Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce, new and revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.
Igoe, Vivien: James Joyce’s Dublin Houses & Nora Barnacle’s Galway, Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2007.