On this day…24 December

On 24 December 1906 Joyce wrote to his brother asking for money.

Typically, Joyce had reached Christmas Eve and found himself with only a pittance on which to survive to the end of the month. Writing to his brother Stanislaus, he asked if there was anything he could do to help.

Stanislaus had done a great deal to help Joyce and his family out while they were living in Trieste, and the situation hadn’t changed despite Joyce moving to Rome. The requests to Stanislaus for help were frequent, and despite working all hours in his bank job, Joyce never seemed to be able to make ends meet.

The postcard that Joyce sent his brother on Christmas Eve 1906 carried no Christmas greetings and started out with a bleak, terse description: ‘It is Xmas Eve. 7 o’clock. I have eleven lire in my pocket.’ It seems that Joyce, who had written to Stanislaus earlier in the month about his distressed finances, had been expecting Stanislaus to send some money. As a result Nora had used some of the money they had to pay off debts. Now that nothing had arrived from Stanislaus, Joyce found himself with only eleven lire to make it to the end of the month.

‘Tomorrow,’ he told Stanislaus, ‘we shall dine on paste [sic] as otherwise I cannot reach the end of the month.’ Still not letting go of the possibility that Stanislaus would come up with something, Joyce reminded him that the bank would only be closed for Christmas Day and asks him if he couldn’t ‘relieve the agony at all?’


Sources & Further Reading:

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