Joyce's Libraries

Richard Ellmann’s The Consciousness of Joyce (1977: Appendix, p. 97-134) provides a list consisting principally of “about 600 items which comprise all or nearly all the library that Joyce left behind him in Trieste when in June 1920 he moved to Paris”, along with a smaller number of other texts that Joyce refers to in his letters etc. during his time in Trieste.

Trieste Library

The "Trieste Library" page offers links to online versions of the texts themselves, as a finding aid for readers. As far as possible, links are provided to the editions that Joyce owned; but sometimes – in the absence of the primary version - an alternative edition or a parallel source is used and a note added to this effect. An edition by a different publisher or editor is not normally used (it is for this reason that some well-known texts are not linked). If the edition is unknown, a link is not usually provided. The texts themselves are held at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin (see here for catalogue entries).

In addition, a number of further texts which Joyce is known to have read or consulted have been included under the link "Other".

The majority of texts are freely and publicly available for research use at, Google Books, and several other major database resources. Some (such as the texts published by the Hathi Trust and some Google Books texts) are only available in particular territories (e.g. the United States). This is mainly for copyright reasons. (It is possible to access out-of-copyright texts of this nature outside the US by using freely downloadable software such as Hotspot Shield.)

The number of texts to which links can be made is testimony to the remarkable work done by Google and others to make the literature of the past readily accessible to researchers. Links are not provided to some texts listed by Google Books as it is not necessarily clear whether these texts are readable or fully searchable online. Texts linked from may also be available in other formats (e.g. EPUB). Perhaps interested parties will be able to publish some of the unlinkable texts to help complete the picture.

As one would expect, the texts were not selected by Joyce as classic or valuable editions of their day intended to enhance a writer's library, but were typically standard, popular, or cheap editions picked up at the book shop or book stall - just what was available for an interested reader who wanted to acquire a text to read and refer to. For further reflections on the library, see Michael Patrick Gillespie's A Critique of Ellmann’s List of Joyce’s Trieste Library in James Joyce Quarterly (vol. 19, no. 1, Fall, 1981, pp. 27-36) and his Inverted Volumes Improperly Arranged: James Joyce and his Trieste Library (1983).

Random browsing of this online library quickly produces worthwhile little discoveries: Edward Thomas's biography of Richard Jefferies and its discussion of The Story of My Heart, for example, seems a more likely source for Stephen's "orient and immortal" at U 3.43 than Thomas Traherne's Centuries of Meditation. The text also contains a reference to "mesial groove" (U 9.615) and a photograph of a statue of Venus that is suggestive of Bloom's wish to get to the bottom of its bottom. Seumas O'Sullivan's Mud and Purple contains an illustration that shows the otherwise undocumented steps that once led up to Merchants' Arch (see U 10.520). Edward Naylor's Shakespeare and Music informs us about the dances Lyster's feet perform in the "Library episode" of Ulysses.

Readers are welcome to supply links to texts not yet addressed, and to provide new or better links for those texts already linked. Please send any corrections or improvements to the Editors at [at] The Editors are grateful to Marc Therre for corrections to the listing.

Paris Library

We are fortunate in having a record of the texts Joyce kept in his library while he was in Trieste, and we are equally fortunate in possessing a comparable listing relating to his library in Paris, published by Thomas E. Connolly ("The Personal Library of James Joyce: a Descriptive Bibliography", in The University of Buffalo Studies (Vol. 22, No. 1, April, 1955 - Monographs in English: No. 6). The titles shown on the Paris Library page are those texts from Joyce's Paris library which were published before the publication of the first book edition of Ulysses and might therefore be of particular interest to scholars of Ulysses and the earlier works. Books published later, or presented later to Joyce (according to the evidence of inscriptions) are not included.

The links provided are wherever possible to the identical edition or printing owned by Joyce. In other cases, the links are to editions as close to these as possible. It has not been possible to provide links for every text.

John Simpson