James Joyce Meets Nora Barnacle

The disparate strands of his life found their focus on June 10, 1904, when he met Nora Barnacle.

He guessed correctly from her accent that she was Galway, and convinced her to meet him in four days. When she stood him up, Joyce wrote to her. His first words are of a perfectly Joycean humor, considering his late eye troubles: 'I may be blind.' He went on:

I looked for a long time at the head of a reddish-brown hair and decided it was not yours. I went home quite dejected. I would like to make an appointment but it might not suit you. I hope you will be kind enough to make one with me-if you have not forgotten me!

He fled Ireland into self-imposed exile late in 1904, taking with him Nora Barnacle, a young woman from Galway who was working as a hotel chambermaid in Dublin when Joyce met her earlier that year. (On hearing that his son had run off with a girl named Barnacle, John Joyce remarked, playing on her last name, "She'll never leave him." And, proving puns can be prophetic, she never did.)