James Joyce (1882-1941) was an Irish author and poet, one of the most challenging and famous writers of the 20th century. His epic Ulysses, written in 1922, was a boundary-pushing landmark work that heavily influenced literary avant-garde. While he spent most of his life away from Ireland, his work is always centered on Dublin.
Joyce was born in the Dublin suburb of Rathgar, the oldest of ten children. He studied at University College Dublin, where began his literary career, publishing a review of Henrik Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken. Joyce attempted but failed to pursue a career in medicine, working on his first novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In 1904 he met Nora Barnacle, who would be his lifelong companion, although the two never officially married. Their first date was June 6, 1904, which would be commemorated in Ulysses.
Between 1904 and 1920, Joyce moved into a self-imposed exile in Europe, first living in Zurich, Switzerland, and then Trieste, but back to Zurich when World War I broke out. During this period he wrote the novel Dubliners. In 1920 he moved to Paris, where he wrote Ulysses. At this time, Joyce was gaining a literary reputation, but Ulysses was highly controversial at the time, often called obscene and almost prevented from publication in the United States. Joyce’s final novel was Finnegans Wake. In 1941, he died following complications for surgery from a perforated ulcer. He was buried in Zurich.