JOYCE, James (1882-1941)
Plaque erected in 1994 by English Heritage at 28 Campden Grove, Holland Park, London, W8 4JQ, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
JAMES JOYCE 1882-1941 Author lived here in 1931
In 1931 number 28B Campden Grove was the home of James Joyce, the Irish author most famous for his 1922 masterpiece, Ulysses. While living at the Kensington flat he married his long-term partner, Nora Barnacle, and worked on the manuscript for Finnegans Wake.
In 1904 Joyce was working on the first draft of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when he met a chambermaid from Galway, Nora Barnacle (1884–1951). The couple eloped, and were to spend much of their lives in Trieste, Zurich and Paris.
Joyce’s first collection of poetry, Chamber Music (1907), was followed by Dubliners (1914) and A Portrait of the Artist (1916). The success of these books won him the support he needed to complete Ulysses (1922), among the greatest literary masterpieces of the century. The work brought Joyce both acclaim and infamy: its scatological wit meant that it was banned in America until 1934 and in Britain until 1936.
Patrick Tierney, who proposed a plaque for Joyce, pointed out that ‘when it came to accommodation, Joyce was a lifelong flea, leaping about between hotels and flats all over Europe’.
He lived in a flat at 28B Campden Grove from early May until early September 1931, during which time he was occupied with Finnegans Wake (1939). By Joyce’s standards, the sojourn was a remarkably settled one. He intended to make London his permanent home, and on 4 July married Nora Barnacle – long his wife in all but name – at Kensington Registry Office.
However, hounded by the press, Joyce’s view of London soured. He deemed his street, which he termed ‘Campden Grave’, to be inhabited by mummies. The flat was let, and the writer was never to set foot in England again.