Irish poet and novelist James Joyce was one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. He was born in Dublin, on February 2, 1882, the son of John Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane Murray. His father had tried his hand at many different occupations, including a distillery business, politics and tax collecting, but he had not succeeded at any of them. The result was that the family had fallen into poverty, although they tried hard to keep up middle-class appearances.
At the age of six Joyce was sent to the Jesuit school, Clongowes Wood College. After this he attended Belvedere College in Dublin from 1893 to 1897. In 1898 he enrolled at University College, Dublin, where he rejected the Roman Catholic church in which he had been raised and resolved to become a writer. After graduating in 1902, Joyce traveled to Paris, working as a journalist and teacher. The following year he returned to Dublin to attend to his dying mother. After her death, Joyce left Dublin with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid whom he married in 1931. They had two children.
In 1907, Joyce published Chamber Music, a collection of thirty-six love poems, but his first major work was The Dubliners (1914), a collection of fifteen short stories, based on life in Dublin. This was followed by A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), a semi-autobiographical novel that described his years at Clongowes, Belvedere and University College and his decision to reject all other influences on him and become an artist.
During World War I, Joyce lived in Zï¿½rich, Switzerland, where he worked on his epic novel, Ulysses, which records one day in the life of people in Dublin in the year 1904, but gives to their lives a universal meaning. In this novel Joyce made much use of the stream-of-consciousness technique. After the war Joyce returned to Paris, where Ulysses was published in 1922. The novel brought him worldwide fame, although because of censorship it did not become available in Britain and the United States until 1933. After Ulysses, Joyce began work on another experimental novel, Finnegans Wake. It took more than fourteen years to write, and Joyce considered it to be his masterpiece. It was published in 1939.
In 1940, after the fall of Paris in World War II, Joyce returned to Zï¿½rich. He died there the following year, on January 13, 1941.