“Such Friends”: 100 years ago, April 21, 1921, Boulevard Raspail, Paris; and 13 Nassau Street, New York City, New York

In Paris, Irish ex-patriate James Joyce, 39, is writing to one of his benefactors, Irish-American lawyer John Quinn, about to turn 51, in New York City, who has been trying to have a publisher bring out a private edition of Joyce’s novel-in-progress, Ulysses.

Boulevard Raspail

Quinn has been supporting Joyce for the past few years, not only by defending the publication of Ulysses excerpts in the American magazine, The Little Review, but also by buying up the manuscript for cash as Joyce works on it.

The legal help has been greatly appreciated, but this past February the court ruled that the sections are obscene and stopped their publication.

Now that Sylvia Beach, 34, owner of Paris bookstore Shakespeare & Company, has offered to publish the novel, Joyce feels he needs to pass the news on to Quinn: 

The publication of Ulysses (complete) was arranged here [in Paris] in a couple of days…Best thanks for your advocacy.”


Back in New York, Quinn has just received the call he has been waiting for from Horace Liveright, 36. His company, Boni and Liveright, is interested in bringing out a private publication of Ulysses, which Quinn has been pitching to them for most of the past year. Private publication of a book won’t be subject to the same legal restrictions as the magazine, which is sent through the mails.

Horace Liveright

Quinn’s staff tells him that a package has just arrived from Paris containing “Circe,” the latest section of Joyce’s manuscript.

Eagerly, Quinn begins to read the handwritten pages, and his optimism quickly fades. He realizes that no matter how it is published, this will be a legal disaster. Anyone who would take the chance would be convicted. He calls Liveright back.

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volume I, covering 1920, is available in both print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

This summer I will be talking about The Literary 1920s in the Osher Lifelong Learning programs at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”: Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.

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