James Joyce was born in Dublin on the 2nd of February 1882 and was the oldest son of a family of 17 children, seven of which died at birth. Joyce’s family was rich at first, but when his father lost his job and started drinking too much, they had to leave their beautiful house beside the sea in Bray.
Joyce’s mother died when he was 21 and she was only 44 and this made him very sad because he loved his mother. Joyce’s father was called John Stanislaus Joyce and was a brilliant storyteller and singer and loved parties. He had a very funny way of telling stories and used a lot of colorful descriptive words when he was talking. James got a lot of ideas for his own stories from his father.
James studied at the best schools of all Ireland, Clongowes Wood College and Belvedere College. He was taught by the Jesuits and grew up in a very religious educational environment. He turned up as the top boy in his class, being very clever for his age. At the University College in Dublin he studied philosophy and languages; he spoke Italian, Norwegian, French and German.
When he was 22 years old, on Nassau Street, he met a girl named Nora Barnacle, from Galway in the West of Ireland, and fell in love with her. In 1904 the two lovers ran away to Europe; they lived in Trieste, in Rome for a few months, in Zurich and also in Paris, but they never owned their own house. They had two children, a son call Giorgio and a daughter called Lucia.
When James’ father died, James was left with all the family portraits that were precious to him and they became the most important pieces of furniture that James ever had. Above all, he liked to have his family portraits with him when he was forced to sit in a dark room for days or weeks in the aftermath of several eyes’ operations. He had eleven.
James Joyce’s books have been translated into more that 130 languages. His most famous book, Ulysses, tells about one day in Dublin which recalls the day when James met Nora in the same city. Ulysses was banned in Britain and America until 1933 because it was considered obscene and immoral, but then it has been voted the greatest book of the 20th century. Other important works are Dubliners and A portrait of the Artist as a Young Man which are also set in Dublin.
James Joyce opened the very first cinema in Ireland in 1910. But he was not a businessman and soon sold it to return back to Europe.
More than 200.000 books have been written about James Joyce’s own books which are at the same time funny and sad, crazy and mad, full of laughter and tears, sorrow and joy.