Solange and Stephen James Joyce Collection

A selection of the letters in the collection (letter by James Joyce reproduced by kind permission of the James Joyce Estate)
A selection of the letters in the collection (letter by James Joyce reproduced by kind permission of the James Joyce Estate)

The University of Reading has acquired a major collection of books, documents and artefacts relating to James Joyce, one of the most important and influential literary figures of the 20th century.

Stephen James Joyce considered the “strong and important” connection between his grandfather and Samuel Beckett as a factor in considering the University as a suitable recipient, feeling that the co-location of the two collections would “considerably enhance” both.

Among the highlights of the collection are a large number of letters to James Joyce, including around two hundred letters from his great supporter Harriet Shaw Weaver, plus correspondence from Paul Léon and writers including H.G. Wells, Ezra Pound and Beckett. Alongside these are a great number of published editions of works by and about James Joyce from across the world and in many languages. Many of the books will be available to browse in the University’s Special Collections Service. Personal items include a manuscript copy of the poem ‘Ecce Puer’ written in James Joyce’s own hand on the birth of Stephen Joyce, and an undated letter from Joyce expressing his love for Nora and saying how much he misses her.

Published works and objects will be available for public access via the Reading Room from 26th September 2023, together with a display in the Staircase Hall: James Joyce: A Love of Language.

Archive Collection

Cataloguing began in Spring 2022 and we anticipate the archive collection will be available for consultation within 12-18 months. Consultation of the archive and object collections will be via appointment made with our Reading Room.

Updates on progress will be available from via the Special Collections social media and on this website.

More Information

  • A handlist of the objects in the collection is available here.
  • See also a list of other writers’ and artists’ archives here.

Library Collection

Reference: JOYCE COLLECTION                    Date: 1918-2018                  Extent: c. 1000 items

Edition of Ulysses from Solange and Stephen James Joyce Collection (SSJ)
Edition of Ulysses from Solange and Stephen James Joyce Collection 

The library of Solange and Stephen James Joyce comprises rare copies of first and limited editions of James Joyce’s works published during his lifetime and posthumously, a wide range of translations of Joyce’s works into most European languages and lesser-known languages from across the globe, critical scholarly publications as well as popular biographies of Joyce. The Joyce Room also houses a wide range of serial publications, from mainstream academic journals to societies’ newsletters, devoted to the great Irish writer, reference sources and other background reading related to James Joyce, the places where he lived and people he associated with.  

The majority of the collection is available to browse on open access, shelved according to an in-house classification scheme that mirrors the Samuel Beckett collection in the adjacent room.  The library also includes audio-visual materials, e.g. audio books and music recordings, as well as music scores, catalogues of exhibitions and auctions, books in Braille and illustrated children’s stories. In particular, it features a comprehensive collection of variously illustrated and translated editions of The Cat and the devil, a children’s story that James Joyce wrote for his grandson Stephen in 1936, then aged four. In 1964 Stephen decided to have it published in book format in partnership with the American artist Richard Erdoes, an enterprise which led to numerous subsequent collaborations between Stephen and well-known children’s books illustrators and translators. 

First editions, rare or autographed copies and limited editions illustrated by prominent artists, such as Mimmo Paladino, Susan Weil and Robert Motherwell, are held in the Joyce Reserve Collection and are available on request. They include the 1922 Shakespeare & Company edition of Ulysses, the limited edition of Ulysses illustrated by Matisse in 1935, the first French translation of A portrait of the artist as a young man bearing the title of ‘Dedalus‘, among others. 

More information

Related collections: