Samara O'Shea

Stephen Joyce

James Joyce Dear Curious Readers,

Who or what is Stephen Joyce? You ask. Stephen is the grandson and heir to the literary estate of Irish writer James Joyce (pictured right in 1904). At the end of Chapter 1 in For the Love of Letters there is a story about Stephen. It is a fun fact that James Joyce wrote several sordid (I mean nasty) erotic letters to his wife, Nora. Although some of their sexual preferences are not my forte, I still admire the passion present in the letters. James and Nora had been together for five years and had two children in December 1909 when these were written. As I read them for the first time, I knew there was no better way to close the erotic-letter section of my book than with a sexy missive written by the man many consider to be the greatest writer of the 20th century.

Since James Joyce’s works are not yet in the public domain, I had to ask Stephen for copyright permission. After a few minutes of Google research, I got the feeling that I would spend an afternoon ice-skating in Hell before I was granted the rights to reprint any of these letters. Stephen does not make life easy for those who wish to reprint James Joyce’s work and does not allow letters to Nora to be reprinted at all. Now, I can understand it’s not easy to read erotica written from your grandfather to your grandmother, but these letters have been in print for the past 30 years. Stephen needs to make his peace with their existence.

Despite my doubts, I had to give it a try. I wrote Stephen and asked if I could reprint one of the erotic letters in my book [read my request letter]. The answer was a resounding no (!), which I thought you might enjoy reading (below). Let me say that I do appreciate him getting back to me (with a handwritten letter nonetheless). The erotic letters appear in The Selected Letters of James Joyce as well as right here. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Enjoy! [Click on the image below to enlarge].


Letter from Stephen Joyce