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James Joyce – First Edition Books: Identification Guide

James Joyce
James Joyce

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce ( 1882 – 1941) was an Irish novelist, short story writer, poet, teacher, and literary critic. He contributed to the modernistavant-garde movement and is regarded as one of the most influential and important writers of the 20th century. Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer’s Odyssey are paralleled in a variety of literary styles, most famously stream of consciousness. Other well-known works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). His other writings include three books of poetry, a play, his published letters and occasional journalism.

On 7 January 1904, Joyce attempted to publish A Portrait of the Artist, an essay-story dealing with aesthetics, only to have it rejected by the free-thinking magazine Dana. He decided, on his 22nd birthday, to revise the story into a novel he called Stephen Hero. It was a fictional rendering of Joyce’s youth, but he eventually grew frustrated with its direction and abandoned this work. It was never published in this form, but years later, in Trieste, Joyce completely rewrote it as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The unfinished Stephen Hero was published after his death.

James Joyce‘s first major work, Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories by Joyce, first published in 1914, by Grant Richards Ltd. They form a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle-class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century.

The stories were written when Irish nationalism was at its peak, and a search for a national identity and purpose was raging; at a crossroads of history and culture, Ireland was jolted by converging ideas and influences. The stories centre on Joyce’s idea of an epiphany: a moment when a character experiences a life-changing self-understanding or illumination. Many of the characters in Dubliners later appear in minor roles in Joyce’s novel Ulysses. The initial stories in the collection are narrated by child protagonists. Subsequent stories deal with the lives and concerns of progressively older people. This aligns with Joyce’s tripartite division of the collection into childhood, adolescence, and maturity.

As he was completing work on Dubliners in 1906, Joyce considered adding another story featuring a Jewish advertising canvasser called Leopold Bloom under the title Ulysses. Although he did not pursue the idea further at the time, he eventually commenced work on a novel using both the title and basic premise in 1914. The writing was completed in October 1921. Joyce found getting a publisher to accept the book to be difficult, due to accusations of obscenity, but it was published in 1922 by Sylvia Beach from her well-known Rive Gauche bookshop, Shakespeare and Company. An English edition published the same year by Joyce’s patron, Harriet Shaw Weaver, ran into further difficulties with the United States authorities, and 500 copies that were shipped to the States were seized and possibly destroyed.

James Joyce’s work has been an important influence on writers and scholars such as Samuel Beckett, Seán Ó Ríordáin, Jorge Luis Borges, Flann O’Brien, Salman Rushdie, Robert Anton Wilson, John Updike, David Lodge, Cormac McCarthy and Joseph Campbell. Ulysses has been called “a demonstration and summation of the entire Modernist movement” and Joyce has been said to have “unquestionable and colossal” influence on European Modernism. The Bulgarian-French literary theorist Julia Kristeva characterised Joyce’s novel writing as “polyphonic” and a hallmark of postmodernity alongside the poets Mallarmé and Rimbaud.

James Joyce – First Editions Identification Guide

How to Identify First Edition books by George Orwell
YearTitlePublisherFirst edition/printing identification points
1907Chamber MusicElkim Matthews, London, 1907Light green cloth. Three bindings, distinguished by the type of end papers used, priority as listed:
  • (A) Thick laid end papers with horizontal chain lines.16.2 x 11 cm. Poems in signature C well centered on page
  • (B) Thick wove end papers. 15.8 x 11 cm. Poems in signature C poorly centered on page.
  • (C) Thin wove transparent end papers. 15.9 x 10.9 cm. Poems in signature C poorly centered on page.
ALSO: The Cornhill Company, Boston, [1918]. Green cloth. First American Edition.
Notes: This unauthorized first American edition of Chamber Music was printed for Alfred Bartlett of the Cornhill Company.
ALSO: B. W. Huebsch, New York, MCMXVIII. First authorized American edition. "Copyright, 1918, by B. W. Huebsch" stated on © page.
1914DublinersLondon , Grant Richard Ltd., [1914].Dark red cloth. "Printed by the Riverside Press Limited. Edinburgh, Scotland ,1914" stated on © page.
ALSO: New York: B. W. Huebsch, 1916. Blue-green cloth. Issued in a cream-colored dust wrapper, printed in black. Price at $1.50. Note: Printed from imported English sheet.
ALSO: New York: B. W. Huebsch, 1917. Blue-green cloth. "Second printing, April, 1917" stated on © page. The dust wrapper is also the same as that of the New York 1916 edition, except Second Printing is printed in red at the top of the front cover.
1916A Portrait of the Artist as a Young ManNew York | B. W. Huebsch, MCMXVIBlue cloth. "Copyright, 1916, by B. W. Huebsch" stated on © page. Issued in a cream-colored dust wrapper, printed in black. Price at $1.50.
Note: The American edition preceed the English Edition. ALSO: The Egoist Ltd., London, Oakley House, Bloomsbury Street [1917]. Dark green cloth. First English edition, printed from American sheets. "Copyright, 1916, by B. W. Huebsch" stated on the © page. Price of 6s.
ALSO: The Egoist Ltd., 23 Adelphi Terrace House, W.C,London, [1918]. Dark green cloth. First English edition, English sheet.. "Second edition, 1917." stated on the © page. Price of 4s 6d.
1918ExilesLondon, Grant Richards Ltd., 1918Green boards. 1918 date on title page. No date on © page. Price of 3s 6d.
ALSO: New York, B. W. Huebsch, MCMXVIII. Green twill cloth, tan boards. First American edition."Copyright, 1918, by B. W. Huebsch" stated on © page. Issued in a pale yellow dust wrapper printed in black. Price of $1.
1922UlyssesShakespeare and Co., Paris, 1922Blue wrappers. Limited to 1000 of which: 100 copies signed on Dutch handmade paper numbered from 1-100; 150 copies on vergé, numbered from 101-250; 750 copies from handmade paper, numbered from 251-1000. Ulysses was printed for Shakespeare and Company eleven times.

ALSO: Egoist Press, London, by John Rodker, Paris, 1922. First English Edition (printed in France). Limited to 2000 copies on handmade paper numbered from 1-2000. "First published by Shakespeare and Company, Paris: February 1922. | Published by the Egoist Press, London: October 1922." stated on the © page. 500 copies were sent to America, reported seized and burned by the government authorities.

NOTES: This edition was printed from the plates of the original edition. Eight pages of “Errata,” unopened, listing over two hundred newly discovered typographical errors were laid in.

ALSO: Shakespeare and Company, Paris, 1927. First American edition (unauthorized/pirated edition). Blue wrappers. The wrappers do not have folding flaps as in the legitimated edition. Printed from the 9th edition but with variations in type and punctuation; p.[viii], blank; p.[1], fly title (misplaced; reversed with divisional numeral: I); p.[2], list of books By the Same Writer, giving a publisher of these books incorrectly as “Jonathan Cape” instead of “Jonathan Cape”; pp.[ 31-50, text of Part 1; p.[51 ], divisional numeral: II ; p.[52], blank; pp.[53]-570, text of Part II; p.[571 ], divisional numeral: in ; p. [572], blank; pp. [573]—735, text of Part III p.[736], blank.

ALSO: The Odyssey Press, Hamburg, Paris, Bologna, [1932]. Two volumes, issued in plain cardboard box. Stiff grey wrappers, printed in reddish brown. "First issued by The Odyssey Press: December 1932." stated on © page.

ALSO: Random House, NY, 1934. Cream cloth. First American edition. "First American edition, published by Random | House, New York, 1934." stated on © page. 100 copies (due to copyright), a second printing of 10,300 copies followed .

ALSO: The Limited Edition Club, NY, 1933. Brown Bancroft buckram. Limited to 1500 copies of which 250 copies are signed by Joyce, with illustrations by Henri Matisse. Note: The text of this edition is based on that of the Odyssey Press, 2nd impression, and is therefore the most accurate text of Ulysses that has been published in the United States.

ALSO: John Lane the Bodly Head, London, [1936]. First English edition (printed in England). Green linen buckram. Limited to 1000 copies of which: 100 copies bound in calf vellum and signed by the author; 900 copies printed on Japanese vellum.
1927Pomes PenyeachShakespeare and Co., Paris, 1927Pale green boards. "Copyright by James Joyce 1927" stated on © page. An errata slip of three lines has been tipped in facing the colophon on page 22.
ALSO: Sylvia Beach, 1931. Gray wrappers. First authorized American edition. "Copyright 1931 by Sylvia Beach" stated on © page. 50 copies. Notes: These copies were printed by the Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, for Sylvia Beach of Paris solely to copyright the work in the United States.
ALSO: Privately Printed, Cleveland, 1931. Unauthorized American edition. Dark brown cloth. "Copyright by James Joyce 1927" stated on © page. Limited to 100 numbered copies, printed by hand on Georgian. 103 copies were printed, of which 100 were numbered. Note: Most copies were given away due to threats from Sylvia Beach for copyright.
ALSO: The Obelisk Press, Paris, 1932. Portfolio of green watered silk over boards. First English edition (printed in France). Limited to 25 numbered copies, signed by Joyce. An unspecified number of hors de commerce copies were also printed.
ALSO: London: Faber & Faber, [1933]. White stiff wrapper. First English edition (printed in England). "First issued in this edition, March mcmxxxiii , by Faber and Faber Limited" stated on © page.
1928Anna Livia PlurabelleNew York: Crosby Gaige: 1928Brown cloth. Limited to 800 numbered copies, signed by Joyce on the limitation page. "Copyright: 1928 : Crosby Gaige" stated on © page. Notes: 50 copies of special issue were also printed, unnumbered and not signed by Joyce. Black cloth instead of brown. Issued in quater green leather slip case.
ALSO: London: Faber & Faber, [1930]. Two binding, no priority: Brown cloth. First English edition, preceded by the Limited American edition. "This edition first published in MCXXX by Faber and Faber Limited" stated on © page.
1929Tales Told of Shem and ShawnThe Black Sun Press, Paris, MCMXXIXWhite wrappers with transparent glassine cover. "Copyrighted by James Joyce, 1929." stated on © page. Limited to 650 copies of which: 100 copies on Japanese vellum signed by the author; 500 copies on Holland Van Gelder and 50 copies Hors Commerce. Issued in slip case cover with green suede paper and gilt slip case.
ALSO: London: Faber & Faber, [1932]. Pale green boards, orange Dust Jacket printed in blue. (2s6d). "First published in December MCMXXXll" stated on © page.
1930James Clarence ManganUlysses Bookshop, London, [1930]Black cloth, purple boards. Limited to 40 numbered copies for private circulation. Not for sale.
1930Isben's New DramaUlysses Bookshop, London, [1930]Black cloth, purple boards. Limited to 40 numbered copies for private circulation. Not for sale.
1930Haveth Childers EverywhereFountain Press, NY 1930White wrappers. "Copyright by Henry Babou and Jack Kahane, France 1930" stated on © page. Limited to 685 copies of which: 100 copies numbered 1-100 on imperial hand-made iridescent Japan, signed by the writer; 500 copies on handmade pure linen Vidalon Royal, numbered 101-600; 10 copies called writer's copies on imperial handmade iridescent Japan, numbered I to X; 75 copies called writer's copies on pure linen hand-made Vidalon Royal, numbered XI to LXXXV.
ALSO: Faber & Faber, London, [1931]. Two issued, priority as listed:
  • (A)Yellow cloth, transparent glassine wrapper. "first published in MCMXXXI by Faber and Faber" stated on © page.
  • (B) Yellow wrappers.
1934The Mime of Mick Nick and the MaggiesThe Sevivre Press, The Hague, MCMXXXIVCream write wrappers. "Copyright 1933 by N. V. Servire, The Hague (Holland)" stated on © page. Two issues, no priority:
  • (A) Blue and gold linen over boards, gilt, plain gray box. 29 special copies signed by James & Lucia Joyce on Simili Japon of Van Gelder Zonen. numbered from I-XXIX.
  • (B) Stiff cream-white wrappers with glassine cover, glued to the spine, in various slip cases. 1000 copies on Old Antique Dutch, numbered from 1-1000.
Notes: The thousand copies described in the colophon were issued under four imprints: (1) the Servire Press, The Hague (as above); (2) Messageries Dawson, Paris; (3) Faber & Faber, London; (4) Gotham Book Mart, New York. In numbers 2, 3, and 4 the additional imprint is added below that of the Servire Press on the title page and separated from it by a rule. The special copies were issued with the imprint of the Servire Press only.
1937Collected PoemsThe Black Sun Press, 1936Two issues, no priority:
  • (A) Cream-white boards, stamped in gilt, transparent glassine wrapper. 50 copies printed on Japanese vellum and signed by the author, numbered 1-50.
  • (B) Cream-white boards, stamped in blue, transparent glassine wrapper. 750 copies numbered 51-750.
ALSO: The Viking Press, NY, 1937. No date on © page. Rose cloth, rose-orange Dust Jacket. Price of $2.00.
1936Storiella As She Is SyungCorvinus Press, 1937Orange vellum, on Arnold hand-made paper, plain gray-green slip case. Limited to 176 copies of which:
  • (A) 25 copies signed by the author numbered 1-25.
  • (B) 150 copies, numbered 26-175.
  • (C) One extra copy lettered "A" on white Japanese mulberry paper and is reserved for the printer.
1939Finnegans WakeLondon: Faber & Faber, 1939Two issues, no priority:
  • (A) Limited edition of 425 signed and numbered copies, Smooth brick red buckram, gilt lettering. Yellow headband. Issued in a yellow cloth slipcase.
  • (B) First English edition. "First published in Mcmxxxix" stated on copyright page. Red cloth, silver lettering. Red & yellow dust jacket. Price 25s.
ALSO: The Viking Press, NY, 1939. First American edition. " First published May 1939" stated on copyright page. Black cloth, gilt lettering. Issued in a light gray dust jacket, price $5.00.

James Joyce – First Printing Dust Jackets Identification Guide

Gallery of First state Dust Jackets of ‘s works. Only includes the first appearance in book form. Either the UK or US edition and does not include later printings.


  • Wikipedia
  • John J. Slocum & Herbert Cahoon: A Bibliography of James Joyce

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