On this day…27 July

On 27 July 1905 Giorgio Joyce was born.

Nora had calculated that her baby was due at the end of August and so when she started having pains during lunch on 27 July she didn’t realise she was in labour.

Joyce had been going swimming that afternoon but changed his mind and returned to their second-floor flat at via S Niccolò 30, Trieste. He arrived to find Nora in pain, but it was some time before they decided to consult Signora Moisé Canarutto, their Jewish landlady. She realised straightaway what was happening and sent for the midwife, Giuseppina Scaber.

Because Nora had not anticipated the arrival so soon, no preparations had been made, but the landlady provided everything that was needed. The bedroom furniture was moved to make the bed more accessible, and Joyce was sent to join the Canarutto men for their evening meal. Dr Sinigaglia, one of Joyce’s students, was also sent for.

Sinigaglia arrived in time to help with the delivery, and the six-hour labour ended at 9pm with the safe delivery of the baby. Signora Canarutto came in to announce to Joyce that he had a son. Sinigaglia told Joyce that Nora had been very brave and had clapped her hands when she was told it was a boy. He also told Joyce that the baby was at full term and not premature as they had supposed.

Joyce went out later to send a three-word telegram to Stanislaus in Dublin to announce the birth, and wrote at length on 29 July to give him all the details of the birth.

Joyce had already decided that if the baby was a boy he would be called George, after his younger brother who had died in 1902. He had also decided that the child would not be baptised. However, it took until July 1906 for Joyce to get around to having his son’s birth officially registered.


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.

Maddox, Brenda: Nora – A Biography of Nora Joyce, London: Hamish Hamilton, 1988.

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.