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Saturday 20 September 2014

Joyce planned to keep his wedding secret from press

Claire McCormack

Published 05/08/2014 | 02:30

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James Joyce pictured after his Kensington register office wedding to Miss Nora Barnacle of Galway, who tries to her hide face...London, England, 4th July 1931

HANDwritten letters by James Joyce detail his efforts to outsmart the press in the run-up to his secret wedding.

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From signing the register only two days before the wedding, to asking his son, Giorgio, and daughter-in-law to avoid drawing attention to themselves, the 'Ulysses' author did all he could to keep his civil ceremony to Nora Barnacle under wraps.

Even trying to convince reporters that he had been married to Ms Barnacle for almost 27 years.

In a letter to Giorgio two days before the real wedding on July 4, 1931, Joyce said: "My Dear Children . . . To throw people off the scent the bride will wear her lifeguard uniform while the groom will be in green satin with a white veil and an orange umbrella."

"Try to look as natural as possible so that people meeting you may not perceive that you have been turned into honest citizens all of a sudden," he said.

However, his efforts were foiled by the London press when a reporter spotted his name on the register in the Kensington district.

In another letter after the wedding, Joyce recalled how the press badgered them.

"All day the bell went and the telephone.

"Even at midnight when we came back from supper there was a reporter posted on the steps," he said, adding that anyone who believed the marriage was a publicity stunt "must be a congenital imbecile".

Owned by the James Joyce Foundation in Zurich, 90 letters can now be read online on the National Library of Ireland website.

Irish Independent

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