On 11 September 1912 Falconer destroyed Dubliners and Joyce left Dublin for the last time.
Still determined to get his hands on the printed sheets of Dubliners and to publish the book himself, Joyce met with George Roberts from Maunsel and Company, and Dixon, his solicitor, on Tuesday 10 September. Joyce could not pursue the printer, John Falconer, for the sheets because it was Maunsel’s who had contracted with Falconer. Dixon pointed out, however, that if the printers didn’t deliver the sheets, Maunsel’s wouldn’t be liable for the printing costs which amounted to £57.
Joyce hoped to use the cost as leverage to get Falconer’s to hand over the sheets, but Roberts refused to meet the printers and Joyce went to see them alone. He met with the managing clerk who repeated that they would not give up the sheets under any circumstances. He claimed that though the book had been set and printed back in July 1910, it was only in the last few days that they had discovered what kind of book it was. By this, he probably meant no more than that the book contained passages or references likely to be found objectionable that might expose Falconer’s to prosecution.
Joyce suggested to the clerk that he would take the sheets and have the book published elsewhere, with his own name as printer and publisher, thereby absolving Falconer’s of any involvement or responsibility. But the clerk continued to refuse, saying that it didn’t matter whose name was on it. When Joyce asked what would happen to the book, the clerk told him the sheets would be burned and the type would be broken up. As to the £57, the clerk said they were not concerned about the loss, but they had learned a lesson and would not be fooled so easily again.
This information was contained in a letter written by Charles Joyce to Stanislaus Joyce on 11 September. The letter ended with a note by Joyce, mentioning that the 1000 copies of Dubliners were to be destroyed by fire that morning. Joyce and his family left Dublin that evening for Trieste, planning a stopover in London en route. As it turned out, this was Joyce’s last day in Dublin: he never returned to Ireland again after this.
Though the final printed pages were destroyed by Falconer’s, Joyce retained proofs from this printing, and the printing of the first edition of Dubliners in 1914 was based on these. So although the Dublin printing was destroyed, it still played a role in the final publication of the book.
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.
– -: Dubliners, edited by Hans Walter Gabler and Walter Hettche, with introductions by John Banville and Scarlett Baron, London: Vintage, 2012.