On 15 June 1889 Milly Bloom was born.
Millicent Bloom was conceived after Bloom and Molly had intercourse on 10 September 1888, two days after Molly’s eighteenth birthday, for which Bloom had sent her eight large poppies. A few weeks later, Bloom was baptised at the Church of the Three Patrons, Rathgar, and then married Molly on 8 October 1888.
Milly, “a querulous newborn infant female,” was born on 15 June 1889. She was delivered by Mrs Thornton of Denzille Street, the midwife, and Dr ‘Snuffy’ Murren. Despite the fact that both Molly and Bloom are dark haired, Milly turns out to be blond, and Bloom speculates that this might be accounted for by remote relation on his side of the family to a Captain Hainau of the Austria army.
The young Milly suffers from measles (Bloom thinks; Molly remembers mumps), and has occasional nightmares. In May 1893, at the age of four, she gives her father a moustache cup for his birthday. For her birthday that year, her father gives her an amberoid necklace, which she breaks.
Her recent development from a child to a precocious teenager is remarked on by both Molly and Bloom. Milly had her first period on 15 September 1903 and is sexually attractive. At fifteen years of age in June 1904, she is the same age as her mother was when she had her first sexual encounter. She is already beginning to think about love, and idolises the actor John Martin-Harvey after seeing him perform the role of Sydney Carton in The Only Way, an adaptation of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.
She has also become disobedient: Bloom has a row with her in the XL Café and he calls her a “saucebox” and “a wild piece of goods.” Molly has been less tolerant of her daughter’s disobedience. On one occasion she hit Milly two slaps after she had back-answered Molly in the language of a fishwife. When Bloom sends Milly to Mullingar, Molly thinks it’s no harm as “she was just getting out of bounds wanting to go on the skating rink and smoking their cigarettes through their nose I smelt it off her dress.” Alec Bannon, who has taken a fancy to Milly in Mullingar, describes her as “a skittish heifer, big of her age and beef to heel.”
Early in June 1904 Bloom decides the Milly may have ‘inherited’ an interest in photography from her grandfather who had a daguerreotype studio, and he sends her to a photographer in Mullingar where she earns 12/6 a week. Molly would have preferred her to go to Skerry’s Academy and is convince Bloom sent her to Mullingar to facilitate Molly’s affair with Boylan.
On 16 June 1904, the post brings a letter for Bloom and a card for Molly from Milly, thanking them for the gifts they sent her for her birthday. She tells her father about the student, Alec Bannon, and that she’s planning to go to a concert in the Greville Arms on Saturday 18 June, and for a picnic with friends on Monday 20 June.
Sources & Further Reading:
Joyce, James: Ulysses, Paris: Shakespeare & Company, 1922.
Raleigh, John Henry: The Chronicle of Leopold and Molly Bloom – Ulysses as Narrative, Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1977.