James Joyce’s Ulysses, considered one of the most famous Irish novels and a significant work of modernist literature, was first published on February 2, 1922. This exhibition at the Harry Ransom Center, curated by Clare Hutton of Loughborough University, marks the 100th anniversary of the book's publication and investigates the important and largely unacknowledged role of women in realization of his famed masterpiece.
Objects from the Ransom Center’s James Joyce Collection tell the story of the formative role of his family members and, in particular, of four women—Margaret Anderson, Jane Heap, Harriet Shaw Weaver, and Sylvia Beach, who were associated with innovative literary experimentation of the period—all of whom helped Joyce’s novel gain widespread notoriety and success.
In the United States, Joyce’s novel was a source of controversy and the subject of an obscenity trial in 1921. Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap’s serial publication of Ulysses in their American magazine The Little Review between March 1918 and December 1920 led to seizure of the edition by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. This led to legal proceedings and the obscenity conviction handed down before Joyce had even completed the work.
In the United Kingdom, Harriet Shaw Weaver committed to substantial, and initially anonymous, financial support of Joyce, and published excerpts of Ulysses in The Egoist. Within days of arriving to live in Paris in July 1920, Joyce had enlisted the help of yet another tireless female helper. Sylvia Beach played a pivotal role in bringing the full novel to print under the imprint of her bookshop and lending library Shakespeare and Company, and helped the novel reach a broad audience in print.
See more than 150 rare objects that tell this story, including a first edition of Ulysses, page proofs for its first printing, original copies of The Little Review, manuscripts in Joyce’s hand, rare books, printed ephemera, and photographs.
Harry Ransom Center
The University of Texas at Austin
300 West 21st Street
Women and the Making of Joyce’s Ulysses