This advertising sheet from the publishers Maunsel and Company, Abbey Street, Dublin, announces the imminent publication of James Joyce’s collection of short stories Dubliners. The collection was due for publication on 24 November 1910 at a cost of 3s.6d. It was due out in good company with illustrated books by Lady Gregory, Ella Young and Seosamh MacCathmhaoil, James Connolly’s Labour in Irish history, and Tom Kettle’s The day’s burden.Dubliners is a collection of fifteen short stories portraying the lives of mostly lower-middle-class Dublin characters. It focuses on themes of family, religion, and nationality, which are treated under the successive aspects of childhood, adolescence, maturity and public life. Joyce made clear that this was a deliberate scheme. From the very beginning he had Dubliners in mind as a title for the overall collection. Writing to the publisher Grant Richards, in October 1905, he stated; “I do not think that any writer has yet presented Dublin to the world.” Though the stories are saturated in the sights and sounds of early twentieth-century Dublin they have always carried a much wider resonance and have won the admiration of readers throughout the world.Joyce, using the pseudonym Stephen Daedalus, published early versions of ‘The Sisters’, ‘Eveline’ and ‘After The Race’ in The Irish Homestead between August and December 1904. After leaving Ireland in October 1904 he continued to write stories, first in Pola then in Trieste and, following several rejections, had a collection of twelve stories accepted by the English publisher Grant Richards in October 1905. When ‘Two Gallants’ was added in April 1906 the printers refused to set it on the grounds of possible obscenity. After a protracted period of negotiations, during which Joyce endeavoured to meet the objections to this and other stories by making a number of changes while strongly defending the integrity of his work, Richards eventually withdrew from the contract. A succession of publishers then rejected the work which had been augmented by the addition of ‘The Dead’, written in 1907 following an unhappy period working in a bank in Rome. In August 1909, while back in Dublin managing the short-lived Volta cinema, Joyce signed a contract with Maunsel & Company, the leading Irish publisher of the time. But difficulties arose when the firm’s managing director, George Roberts, took exception to references to real people and places in some of the stories. After a lengthy delay, from the announcement in 1910, the text was set in type by the summer of 1912 but, after more heated argument, during which both sides consulted legal opinion, Roberts refused to publish it. The printer, John Falconer, destroyed the entire print run with the exception of one copy which Joyce managed to rescue.Several publishers then rejected the work but, in January 1914, Grant Richards agreed to revive the original contract and Dubliners was published on 15 June 1914. Initially it sold poorly - a mere 379 copies in the first year - and early reviews were mixed. But gradually its reputation began to grow and it has remained in print ever since, being published all over the world in English language editions and in translation.
Although the Dublin: One City, One Book choice for April this year is James Joyce's 'Dubliners', it is timely to remember that the choice for April 2009 was 'Dracula' by Dublin-born writer Bram Stoker; timely because April 20th this year marks the 100th anniversary of Stoker's death (20th April, 1912).About Bram StokerBram Stoker was born in Dublin's Marino Crescent on November 8th, 1847. After an early life plagued by illness, he went on to graduate from Trinity in 1868 with a Masters Degree in mathematics. His early work life was as a civil servant in Dublin Castle, while he was at the same time a freelance journalist and theatre critic.Stoker first met the actor Henry Irving in 1878, soon after his marriage to Florence Balcombe (who had spurned Oscar Wilde in his favour), and he left Dublin to become Irving’s theatrical agent and business manager in London. He afterwards became manager of Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, a position he held until Irving's death in 1905.Continuing the tradition of gothic fiction already established in Dublin by writers such as Charles Maturin and Sheridan le Fanu, Stoker's most famous novel, 'Dracula', was published in 1897. Bram Stoker produced several other writings with a supernatural theme, but none to rival 'Dracula' and its enduring popularity. Dracula - the BookI read 'Dracula' back in April 2009 when it was the Dublin: One City, One Book choice, and I found it a book I did not want to put down. And I did not find it at all hard to read; to the contrary, I found the diary style a refreshing change from the norm, and the language, while obviously reflecting the period in which it was written, to be beautiful, poetic and descriptive. It gets a definite thumbs up from me.Also available to borrow is an audio (CD) version, plus a number of film (DVD) versions; an old favourite being the 1931 version starring Bela Lugosi.The Bram Stoker CollectionDublin City Public Libraries houses the Leslie Shepard Bram Stoker Collection, and this valuable donation of books by and about Bram Stoker, gathered over a lifetime of interest by the late Leslie Shepard, is a treasure-trove for researchers and enthusiasts. The collection comprises in excess of 230 books and pamphlets relating to Bram Stoker and his creation, Dracula. The collection can be found at Marino Library and at the Dublin City Library and Archive, Pearse Street.
While reading Ghostlight by Joseph O’Connor the One City One Book for April 2011, my interest was sparked.The library has copies of John Millington Synge’s writings, including his plays, poetry as well as numerous biographies.I discovered a book of photographs taken by John Millington Singe My Wallet of Photographs the collected photographs of J M Synge arranged and introduced by Lilo Stephens. 1971.I decided to photograph these same places in Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire in 2011. Places that feature in Synge’s letters to Molly Allgood, the woman who inspired Ghostlight. These photos are currently on display in the Dublin City Library and Archive, Pearse Street.I wanted to walk in Synge’s and Molly’s footsteps, to soak up the atmosphere, the essence of the places in his photographs.What wonderful social documents Synge's photos are. He was essentially interested in people and his photographs are a wonderful record of daily live around 1907. These photos include blacksmiths, people making hay, cutting turf, at market, selling apples at the fair, potato pickers, school boys on Dun Loaghaire pier. These people inspired Synge’s writing with their language and stories.“The camera was used to produce a visual record of the types of people he brought to life in his literary and dramatic works” Lilo StephensIt was a pleasure to discover, while retracing Synge’s steps, that the places are geographically unchanged, even some of the buildings are still there. I’ll finish with Synge’s own words from a letter he wrote to Molly on 2nd May 1907“What wouldn’t I give to be out with you now in this rich twilight coming down from Rockbrook or Enniskerry with strange smells and sounds, and the first stars, and the wonderful air of Wicklow? Is there anything in the world to equal the joy of it?”