On this day…26 July

On 26 July 1907 Lucia Anna Joyce was born.

Nora went into labour on Thursday 25 July and went to the hospital where Lucia was born the following day.

During her second pregnancy, Nora suffered severe stomach cramps, and at the end of June Dr Sinigaglia, one of Joyce’s pupils who acted as the family doctor, had been called. He said the birth would come in three weeks and signed the papers for Nora to go to the hospital when the time came.

The midwife was called when Nora went into labour on Thursday 25 July, and when she judged the time was right, Joyce, accompanied by Stanislaus and Giorgio, went with Nora to the hospital. Nora was admitted to the pauper’s ward, and once she was settled the Joyce men left and went home. Lucia was born at 4am on Friday 26 July.

Joyce had decided on possible names for children two years earlier when Nora was pregnant for the first time: the names he had chosen were ‘George’ and ‘Lucy.’ St Lucy was the patron saint of eyesight, and Joyce marked her feast day on 13 December each year. Almost certainly, Joyce hoped for some intercession if he named his daughter in honour of St Lucy. As 26 July was the feast day of St Anna, and as Nora’s mother’s name was Anne, they decided to call the new arrival Lucia Anna.

Greetings to the newborn arrived quickly from Ireland. Joyce’s Aunt Josephine wrote on 29 July welcoming the new addition to the family. However, later in the year, Joyce’s sister Margaret wrote asking what had made Joyce choose that name for her, and John Joyce wondered if his son had been in his right mind when he chose the name.

Lucia had her mother’s dark colouring and blue eyes with a cast in her left eye. Though Nora had been breastfeeding Giorgio until February 1907, she decided not to breastfeed Lucia, a decision Joyce later regretted.

When she left the hospital with her daughter on 5 August Nora was given a sum of 20 crowns given to paupers leaving the hospital. The same day, Joyce received a bill demanding payment of the fees for Nora’s stay or a certificate of poverty if Joyce was to be exempted from paying.


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.

Norburn, Roger: A James Joyce Chronology, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

McCourt, John: The Years of Bloom – James Joyce in Trieste, 1904-1920, Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2001.

Shloss, Carol Loeb: Lucia Joyce – To Dance in the Wake, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003.