James Joyce's Daughter Lucia is Born

The cause of Joyce’s greatest anguish, Lucia was born in Trieste in 1907, the second child of impoverished and (until 1931) unwed parents.

With them, she moved to Zurich during the First World War, and later to Paris where Joyce, on Ezra Pound’s advice, found the Modernist milieu conducive to finishing Ulysses. At home the Joyces spoke Italian, or a Triestine dialect thereof (a fact which makes nonsense of the Irish brogues affected by the actors playing Giorgio and Lucia in Michael Hastings’s recent play, Calico). The children’s rackety upbringing was marked by the two abrupt changes of language and schooling as well as by constant shifts of address in whichever city they were living. They were scarred too by sharing their home with their obsessive artist father, who was becoming blind. Perhaps worse, was the sudden celebrity, following the 1922 publication of Ulysses.

In her early twenties, Lucia Joyce pursued several brief and unsuccessful relationships. Among her romantic interests were Samuel Beckett, and her drawing instructor, Alexander Calder. Family and friends observed increasingly erratic behavior from Joyce during this period, and in February 1932, she was institutionalized for a short time after throwing a chair at her mother. She was engaged to Alex Ponisovsky in March 1932, but wedding plans were abandoned after the further decline of her mental health.

Lucia Joyce spent the next several years in and out of sanitariums. She was seen by numerous doctors and analysts, including Carl Jung, and was diagnosed at different times as neurotic, schizophrenic, and manic-depressive. In 1935, she was committed to an asylum near Paris and remained institutionalized for the rest of her life, dying December 12, 1982, in St. Andrew's Hospital in Northampton, England.