Irish Homestead

Irish Homestead

In Brief

In response to Mr. Deasy's request that he place his letter about foot and mouth disease in two newspapers, Stephen thinks of the Evening Telegraph and the "Irish Homestead." The Homestead was a weekly newspaper of relatively small circulation, targeted at rural readers. Stephen names it because he knows that George Russell works there, and the novel seems to be obliquely alluding to the fact that Russell published Joyce's earliest stories in this newspaper.

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The Homestead was published from 1895 to 1923. Russell edited the paper from 1905 to 1923, as a consequence of his work with rural cooperatives for Sir Horace Plunkett's Irish Agricultural Organisation Society. In 1904 he was working at the paper under the general editorship of H. F. Norman. Stephen's choice of the Homestead as a second venue for the letter reflects his acquaintance with Russell, and he is probably expecting to encounter him in the National Library later in the day. The two men do in fact meet in Scylla and Charybdis, and when Russell gets up to leave, saying, "I am afraid I am due at the Homestead," Stephen stands up with him and says, "If you will be so kind as to give the letter to Mr Norman..." To himself he thinks, "The pigs' paper." The Homestead focused on agrarian issues.

The Homestead also, however, published Joyce's first short stories. When Joyce was begging friends for the loan of a pound in 1904, Russell (who had read and enjoyed Stephen Hero) offered to pay him that sum for "a short story suitable for the Irish Homestead, something 'simple, rural?, livemaking?, pathos? [pathetic].'" He suggested that "It is easily earned money if you can write fluently and don't mind playing to the common understanding and liking for once in a way. You can sign it any name you like as a pseudonym."

Joyce wrote "The Sisters" (in a version different from the one that eventually began Dubliners) and received a sovereign in payment. Loath to publish in the pigs' paper under his own name, he accepted Russell's suggestion and wrote as Stephen Daedalus. The story appeared in August 1904. The Homestead also published "Eveline" in September 1904, shortly before Joyce left Ireland with Nora Barnacle, and "After the Races" in December of the same year. But Joyce was definitely not "playing to the common understanding and liking," and by the end of the year there were so many objections to his stories that he was asked not to submit any more. He responded, typically, by including Russell in the host of betrayers that he assaulted in his poem The Holy Office.

John Hunt 2015
Front page of the Irish Homestead of 9 January 1904, in a copy held by the National Library of Ireland. Source: Bidwell and Heffer, The Joycean Way.
Joyce's first short story, "The Sisters," published in the Irish Homestead in August 1904, seen here in a bound edition . Source: