Ulysses was published on February 2nd, 1922 in Paris by Parisian bookseller, Sylvia Beach
who owned the world renowned Shakespeare and Company bookshop.
The acclaimed novel has become known as one of the defining books of modernism. It is
considered among the most important and influential literature of its time.
James Joyce completed the novel over the course of seven years, across three different cities.
It takes the reader through a single day in Dublin through the lens of the three main
characters, Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, and Bloom’s wife, Molly.
Although, when Joyce initially published the book, it was met with suspicion in its native
Ireland and across the rest of the world. Although the book was never officially banned in
Ireland, according to the Department of Justice, it was never put on sale as copies of the book
never made it through customs.
Prior to the completed publication, excerpts of the novel had been published in the New York
literary magazine, The Little Review in 1920. The magazine was subsequently taken to court
and fined for publishing it as they were in violation of the post offices anti-obscenity code.
In 1934, the novel was officially published in full by Random House in the US. It was also
banned in the United Kingdom throughout the 1920s and early 1930s due to its salacious
The British Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Archibald Bodkin wrote an official
government opinion letter about the book in which he described it as having a “great deal of
unmitigated filth and obscenity.” It was later printed and published in the UK in 1936.
Bloomsday is celebrated annually in Dublin and elsewhere to commemorate the life and work
of Joyce. The event is named after the protagonist, Leopold Bloom.
Those celebrating the day typically dress up as characters from the book, in the typical style
of that era. The straw boater hat is traditionally a hallmark fancy dress item donned by those
Celebrations of the day typically consist of readings, performances and visiting the places in
Dublin referenced throughout the course of the novel.
The first Bloomsday that was celebrated in Ireland was held on June 16th, 1954. The single
day depicted in the book was on June 16th, 1904.
As 2022 marks 100 years since the publication of Ulysses, events will take place across the
country to honour the literary achievements of Joyce throughout the 20th century. The events
can be found here at Ulysses 100.
Image credit: Cherwell