Newspapers

In Brief

In Eumaeus Bloom urges Stephen to make money from his talents as a writer: "literary labour not merely for the kudos of the thing. Writing for the newspapers which is the readiest channel nowadays." Stephen takes no more interest in this proposal than he did when it came from the mouth of Myles Crawford in Aeolus, but Bloom is right about the abundant opportunities. An astonishing number of morning, evening, and weekly papers circulated in 1904 Dublin, combining news stories with business and classified ads (often on the first page), public announcements, editorial essays, sports features, parliamentary and court proceedings, transcripts of speeches, financial market prices, personal portraits, obituaries, drawings, and photographs—as well as poems, short stories, book reviews, and literary essays. Ulysses mentions at least 16 of these publications in the course of its day. Most hold some literary interest, whether for the people, events, and politics represented in the novel, or for characters in the stories of Dubliners, or for Joyce's own early publishing efforts.

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The three largest news dailies, in terms of circulation, were the Freeman's Journal, the Evening Telegraph, and the Irish Times. The unionist Times and the nationalist Freeman appeared in the morning, along with the unionist Daily Express and the nationalist Irish Independent. The nationalist Telegraph came out in the evening, along with the unionist Dublin Evening Mail and two papers not mentioned in the novel, the Dublin Evening Standard and the Evening Herald. It seems likely that some London dailies were also sold in Dublin, given the twice-daily schedules of the Holyhead mailboats, but the novel mentions only the brutal attitudes toward Ireland expressed in the conservative London Times in the 1840s.

In addition to all the daily newspapers, various Irish and English weeklies circulated on the streets of Dublin. In Aeolus Myles Crawford hunts for a back issue of the "Weekly Freeman" as he tells the story of Ignatius Gallaher's journalistic coup, and Lenehan comes in with an issue of "Sport," another weekly published by Freeman's Journal, Ltd. (The front door of the building, we learn at the beginning of the chapter, sports "newsboards of the Weekly Freeman and National Press and the Freeman's Journal and National Press.")

In Hades Bloom thinks of reading "the Church Times. Marriage ads they never try to beautify." Gifford observes that this "weekly Church of England newspaper, quite conservative and High Church in its views," did publish "an impressive number of genteel personal want ads." In Lestrygonians Bloom thinks of "the Irish Field," a Dublin-produced Saturday issue which Gifford notes was "devoted to the interests of country gentlemen." Ithaca records that his desk drawer contains "a press cutting from an English weekly periodical Modern Society, subject corporal chastisement in girls' schools." 

Like the Sunday magazines of the New York Times and some other American newspapers today, these weekly publications appear to have subordinated the reporting of current events to longer pieces of less topical interest. In Aeolus Bloom thinks, "It's the ads and side features sell a weekly, not the stale news in the official gazette." Many of the weeklies also featured poems and stories. Ithaca recalls how a young Leopold Bloom entered a poem in a competition to be published in "the Shamrock, a weekly newspaper" (Gifford notes that this too was an actual publication, produced by the Irish National Printing and Publishing Company on Abbey Street), and Calypso shows him envying Mr. Philip Beaufoy, who has published a story called "Matcham's Masterstroke" in an English weekly, Tit-Bits, which published extracts from books and newspapers around the world, as well as original works of literary fiction.

The United Irishman, a nationalist paper which inspired a fictional story about an African chieftain that is read aloud in Cyclops, also appeared weekly. One more English weekly in the pages of Calypso deserves mention, though it stretches the definition of "newspaper" even farther than does Tit-Bits. Racy photographs were the chief draw of Photo Bits, but like Tit-Bits this journal also published comical snippets and complete short stories.

§ Although Philip Beaufoy is fictional, his story closely resembles one that Joyce himself submitted to Tit-Bits on a lark as a teenager. In his twenties, the writer regularly supported himself with short newspaper columns. In April 1903 he published an interview with a French race-car driver in the Irish Times, and from December 1902 to November 1903 he wrote no fewer than 21 book reviews for the Daily Express. From August to December of 1904 he published drafts of three of his early Dubliners stories in an agriculturally oriented weekly called the Irish Homestead, under the pen name Stephen Dedalus. From 1907 to 1912, while living in Trieste, he placed nine different articles in that city's most important newspaper, Il Piccolo della Sera.

Given Joyce's involvement with four Irish papers and one Italian one, it seems clear that Bloom should not be regarded as a clueless Philistine when he recommends "Writing for the newspapers." He is giving Stephen some actionable information.

JH 2018
Men and boys reading newspapers outside the Chicago Daily News building in 1911. Source: chicagology.com.
The first page of "The Sisters. By Stephen Dedalus," story published in 13 August 1904 issue of The Irish Homestead. Source: Cyril Pearl, Dublin in Bloomtime.