On this day…4 September

On 4 September 1909 Joyce told Grant Richards that Maunsel & Company had accepted Dubliners.

After Grant Richards rejected Dubliners in 1906 it was also rejected by several other publishers until Maunsel and Company in Dublin agreed to publish it. In the end, Maunsel and Company rejected it as well and the book was finally published by Richards in 1914.

On his way to Dublin at the end of July 1909, Joyce had stopped in London to see Grant Richards. Richards wasn’t there at the time, but he wrote to Joyce to apologise for missing him when he called, and hoped they could meet in London on Joyce’s return journey. Replying to Richards on 4 September, Joyce said he would not have time to call on him on the return journey, and told him that Maunsel and Company had agreed to bring out Dubliners the following spring.

Maunsel and Company had been suggested first by Elkin Mathews, the publisher of Chamber Music, in February 1908. Mathews even spoke to Joseph Hone of Maunsel and Company, and shortly afterwards Hone wrote directly to Joyce to declare his interest in Dubliners. Joyce had also known George Roberts, managing director at Maunsel and Company, before he left Dublin, and Roberts had claimed to be interested in publishing him.

But in 1908 Joyce was still determined to find an English publisher for his book, in the hope that an English publisher might ensure greater sales and a less provincial aura than an Irish publisher. It was not until the book had been rejected by several more English publishers that Joyce decided to offer it to Maunsel and Company in April 1909. The book was accepted and Joyce signed the contract with Maunsel in July 1909.

It may be that, by writing to Richards to tell him of Maunsel’s acceptance, Joyce hoped that Richards would reconsider the book. As things turned out, in 1912 Maunsel and Company finally refused to publish Dubliners, and it was Richards who brought it out in 1914.


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.