James Joyce and His Birthday
February 2, 2016, is the 134th birthday of James Joyce. In his huge biography, Richard Ellmann notes in several places Joyce’s fascination with his own birthday (he made certain that his novel “Ulysses” was published on his 40th, in 1922) and tells how this affected his relationship with another writer, James Stephens. Ellmann quotes Joyce:
“The combination of his name from that of mine [James] and my hero in A.P.O.T.A.A.A.Y.M. [“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”] is strange enough. [The hero of that novel is Stephen.] I discovered yesterday, through enquiries made in Paris, that he was born in Dublin on the 2 February 1882.” (Ellmann, 592)
Ellmann notes that Joyce also found it amazing that he and Stephens were both fathers of a boy and a girl. Either Stephens did not know or did not want to tell Joyce that they did indeed share a birthday but not a birth date, as Stephens was born February 2, 1880.