Ravi D. Goel Collection of John J. Slocum Papers Relating to James Joyce. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. (collection overview & inventory)

The Ravi D. Goel Collection of John J. Slocum Papers Relating to James Joyce is now open for research at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. This post includes a collection overview and inventory. The Slocum/Joyce collections were recently profiled in The Ophthalmologist and The Wills Eye Alumni Society Newsletter (pdf).

I collect historical documents as a hobby. Since 2008, I have donated manuscripts, rare books, archival materials, and collections to Amherst College, Dickinson College, Forest History Society, Harvard University, Minnesota Historical Society, Princeton University, and Yale University. The collections are described here.

In July 2017, a friend and colleague, Heather Smith MD, was browsing the Slocum estate sale in Newport, Rhode Island.  She noticed a letter on Yale Library stationery and texted to see if I might be interested in items marked, “John Slocum’s ‘James Joyce’ Collection Correspondence.” We spent the next thirty minutes exchanging texts (cell phone calls would not connect!) as she successfully negotiated the purchase from the Slocum estate.

John Jermain Slocum (1914–1997), Harvard Class of 1936, was a contemporary of David Rockefeller and James Laughlin. Slocum was “an American diplomat, book collector, literary agent, and scholar.” (Wikipedia) He was among the pre-eminent James Joyce collectors in the 20th century. Richard M. Kain describes Slocum as “a collector of rare discrimination, whose generosity and knowledge are known to all Joyce students.” (JSTOR)

The New York Times described Slocum as a “Diplomat and Connoisseur of Literature” who “took part in the effort to coordinate the various museums of the Smithsonian Institution ..  In 1974 he was an organizer and founding president of the Friends of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington.” (NYTimes)

Archives at Yale states, “Slocum assembled what was widely considered the world’s leading collection of James Joyce printed and manuscript material. The collection was acquired by Yale University in 1951. In 1953 Yale University Press published A Bibliography of James Joyce by Slocum and Herbert Cahoon.” 

The Slocum letters and correspondence in this collection are filled with “Joyceana after Joyce.” In addition to the Yale Library materials, the letters include correspondence among the leading Joyce collectors of the early 20th century. The details complement Joyce-related archives throughout the United States, Ireland, and Joycean world. 

Manuscript copy of Lucie Noel’s James Joyce and Paul Léon: The Story of a Friendship.

The collection includes a manuscript copy of Lucie Noel’s James Joyce and Paul Léon: The Story of a Friendship. The Noel manuscript includes notations to change the book’s title and lead with “James Joyce.” As well, the collection includes an English-translation manuscript of Stanislaus Joyce’s Recollections of James Joyce By His Brother, the basis of the posthumously published My Brothers Keeper (1957). Both manuscripts, published by the James Joyce Society, appear to be complete. 

The importance of Lucie Noel’s book is described in a 2003 Irish Times article:

Fortunately, Lucie Léon has left a written memorial of what she did with the Joyce documents. It is contained in her book, James Joyce And Paul L. Léon: The Story Of A Friendship (New York: The Gotham Book Mart, 1950). She describes in considerable detail how she safeguarded the manuscripts. “We made a complete, detailed list of everything and by various channels Mrs Joyce eventually got everything back after the war was over.”

This is the only published testimony by a participant as to what happened at the time. I am aware of no other evidence of comparable authority and clarity that would tend to undermine it. I doubt that it is possible to go beyond it, or behind it, except into a realm of speculation. Of course, Lucie Léon might have been mistaken; she might have overlooked documents that had been part of the rescued material, and these might have remained undiscovered until Alexis Léon finally got around to going through his mother’s effects a few years ago.  

In addition to the Lucie Noel & Stanislaus Joyce manuscripts, a handwritten letter from author and Judge Eugene Sheehy states, “I was a school companion of his (Joyce) at Belvedere College, later at University College Dublin, and the Daniel referred to in “Stephen Hero” was my Father.” This is a landmark letter and mesmerizing in every detail. Sheehy mentions his memoir, May It Please the Court, which details his friendship with James Joyce.

Sheehy’s sister, Mary Sheehy Kettle, was “the muse of the adolescent James Joyce and is the model for the lead female character in Joyce’s story Araby from his collection Dubliners, as well as Miss Ivors in his story The Dead from the same collection.” (Tom Kettle page, Wikipedia).  Mary Kettle’s husband, Tom Kettle, was James Joyce’s best friend in Ireland. 

A second landmark letter is by Richard Ellmann (Yale 1939). The letter includes a transcript from Joyce to Mary Kettle on Tom Kettle’s death during World War I.  The transcript was attached to a handwritten letter from Ellmann to Slocum.  A few years later, Ellmann’s biography, James Joyce, won the U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction. Ellmann’s work is considered one of the most acclaimed literary biographies of the 20th century (Richard Ellmann page, Wikipedia).

Numerous other letters are extraordinary in their details about Joyce, international collecting and publishing. This collection complements numerous Yale holdings, including the James Joyce collection (Gen MSS 112), Norman Holmes Pearson papers (YCAL MSS 899), and John J. Slocum papers relating to Ezra Pound, 1938-1950 (YCAL MSS 171).  As well, the documents complement the Argus Book Shop correspondence (YCAL MSS 427), Donald Clifford Gallop papers (YCAL MSS 838), James T. Babb Correspondence (GEN MSS 1011), and Eugene and Maris Jolas papers (GEN MSS 108). 

In addition, February 2, 2022 was the 100th anniversary of the publication of Ulysses and Joyce’s 140th birthday.  This 2022 gift was timed to honor these anniversaries and the recently launched Yale For Humanity Capital Campaign. Among the pillars of the Yale Campaign is “Preservation and Access: Yale’s constellation of museums and libraries is unrivaled. Advances in technology offer a remarkable opportunity to share our collections in new ways.”

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to correspond with leading Joyceans about this archive.

Paul K. Saint-Amour (Yale 1991), is the Annenberg Professor and Chair, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania and a trustee of the International James Joyce Foundation (IJJF). He is also a fellow Yale Alley Cat singing group member with my high school & Yale classmate Lawrence Zazzo ’93. Professor Saint-Amour emailed:

The Beinecke’s fortunate indeed to be acquiring this cache of materials from you. I enjoyed seeing that old Faber & Faber letterhead and the typescript of Stanislaus Joyce’s book (perhaps an early version of the book published after his death as His Brother’s Keeper?).

Legal scholar, former James Joyce Quarterly editor, and Professor Robert Spoo (Yale Law 2000), emailed:

This is a very interesting acquisition, and I’m sure that Yale/Beinecke is delighted to add these to their Slocum materials … You might contact my colleague and former special collections head at Penn State, Bill Brockman.  He and I are involved, along with others, in an online project to annotate and publish the unpublished correspondence of James Joyce.  The current Slocum collection at Yale bears on that project, of course, and your additions may as well.  Best wishes, Bob Spoo

William S. Brockman, Bibliographer James Joyce Quarterly, editor of the “James Joyce Checklist” and “The Joyce Calendar,” emailed:

I have had a chance to read through your inventory. What a collection! And how strange that these items didn’t accompany the rest of Slocum’s collection when it went to the Beinecke. But these things happen, and the value of your collection is in filling a hole in the jigsaw puzzle of the provenance of the establishment of the numerous Joyce collections. Slocum came along at just the right time–at the end of WWII, when many who knew Joyce were still alive and the major Joyce collections were just being formed. Slocum and Cahoon’s bibliography is a marvelous work, remarkably accurate and thorough and still an essential tool for Joyce research. Your collection is striking for the numerous connections that it has with key figures in Joyce studies of the early 1950s. 

President of the James Joyce Society and New York Institute of Technology Professor Jonathan Goldman emailed:

Writing in haste: I am grateful for your message. This all sounds wonderful. I myself am a scholar who would be interested in looking closely at this collection, as I am particularly engaged in Joyceana after Joyce, if you get my meaning.

Kipling collector and author David Richards (Yale 1967, Yale Law 1972) emailed:

I have recently learned that Leonard Lauder as a collector has three responses when he sees a possible acquisition:  “Oh.”  “Oh my.”  and “Oh My God!”   This is certainly an OMG moment and gift.

Slocum sold his collection to Yale in 1951, and published his bibliography in 1953. Richard M. Kain writes, “The Slocum collection, now in the Yale University Library, is undoubtedly one of the finest ever made of any modern author. It contains all major editions and most of even the rarest variants, as well as translations, volumes of criticism, letters, publishers’ contracts, manuscripts, proof-sheets, and reviews.” (JSTOR)

These papers represent Slocum’s correspondence between 1950 and 1954.  Slocum appears to have had a particular affinity to these papers, or else he could have easily donated these Joyce-related materials to Yale between 1954 and his death on August 12, 1997. In addition, Slocum donated the “John J. Slocum papers relating to Ezra Pound, 1938-1950” to Yale in 1981.  

These papers and manuscripts are among the crown jewels for any Joycean and maintained Slocum’s connection to Joyce and his Yale collection until his death.  A collector’s affinity to a subject can become overwhelming and thus most difficult to part with 100% of a collection. 

I hope that this collection helps Joyce scholars in their future research and scholarship.

Below is an item level inventory which I prepared during the process of donation to the Beinecke Library. The item numbers below may differ with the final collection accession numbers. To request digital images, please contact the Beinecke Library reproduction services here.

Item #1. 1/8/51 – From Norman Holmes Pearson, Yale University, to John J. Slocum.

“I don’t know whether or not you heard that we did try to get the proofsheets that came up at the sale in New York this fall, and put in a bid of over a thousand for them, going several higher than John thought we would need to. But your Pennsylvania friend who got the manuscript out of you went us higher still. I wish to God we could have had it.”

“J Laughlin and I have been exchanging correspondence re the Stephen Hero ms.” Detailed analysis including “Yale cannot technically give permission to use the papers since they do not legally belong to her.”

Mentions Dick Kane and the possibility to have “the chance first to print it in an article with a true and reasonably lengthy discussion of the significance of this fragment.”

“But J is neither giving scholarly benefits nor doing a thing to help make the collection available.”

A detailed and intriguing episode of who owns and will benefit from the newly discovered Stephen Hero fragment.

Mentions Harvard purchase of other papers to help Professor Ted Spencer.

“As a matter of fact you and I discussed this matter in particular, before Yale agreed to buy the papers. We felt (or rather you did) that Stanislaw (sic) might well have some addition segments, and that we should wait to see what the kitty brought forth before we began to look a little silly by having one additional segment, then another, and so on. You even said that you wanted to fool with it yourself. It still makes sense to me.”

“The chief recent acquisition in the modern group is the papers of Mabel Dodge Luhan, some 1500 lbs of them at the first shipment … and Bill Benet’s papers are now pretty much here …”

(Addendum: from Bill Brockman, “‘Your Pennsylvania friend’ and the ‘proofsheets’ are probably a reference to Bradford PA collector T.E. Hanley, whose Joyce collection–with proofsheets for Ulysses–went to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.”)

Item #2. 1/21/51. – From John J. Slocum to Norman Holmes Pearson, Yale University.

Slocum asks Pearson his views on the “whole Laughlin business.”

Slocum writes, “Knowing James, I am convinced that his virtuous desire to permit Mrs. Joyce to benefit by the proceeds is motivated in part by the fact that she is dead, something he overlooked when he wrote me.”

“Hope that I have a chance to write you again when there is more time to discuss Joyce and other current projects.”

This letter complements the Norman Holmes Pearson papers at the Beinecke Library. (YCAL MSS 899).  Collection includes correspondence with John J. Slocum (folder b. 104, dates 1947-1975) and James Joyce Society (b. 59).

Also mentions Herb Cahoon, who was Slocum’s co-author on a “A Bibliography of James Joyce (1882-1941).” (1953).

Item #3. 3/22/51 – From R.A. Beals, New York Public Library

Acknowledgment of “Pomes Penyeach, by James Joyce, privately printed, Cleveland, 1931 (edition limited to 100 copies)” “Presented in Association with Mr. James F. Spoerri.”

Item #4. 4/3/51 – From P.F. du Sautoy, Faber and Faber, to John J. Slocum.

Regarding the publication of “Recollections of my Brother.” 

“We have all of us here found it extremely interesting, but I am afraid it is an awkward length for us to publish.”

*** Please note T.S. Eliot on letterhead. Eliot was an early Faber editor and director. Eliot was also the 1st dues paying member of the James Joyce Society.

Item #5. 4/11/51 – From P.F. du Sautoy, Faber and Faber, to Mr. John Slocum, U.S. Zone, Germany.

“We should very much like to see your James Joyce Bibliography if he can send us proofs. I have also told him that I shall be in New York before very long, and visiting Yale while there, in case he has anything he wants to discuss with me personally.”

“We should certainly be very glad to have an opportunity to including your Joyce bibliography, with Gallup’s Eliot bibliography, in our list. They will be two very valuable books.”

“… we should be most interested to see any longer work on James Joyce produced by Stanislaus Joyce …”

*** T.S. Eliot on letterhead. Eliot was an early Faber editor and director.

Item #6. 8/29/51 – From Kees van Hoek, Frankfurt, to John J. Slocum.

“As Foreign Affairs Columnist of the ‘Irish Times”, the leading Irish newspaper, I happen to be in Frankfurt where I saw Dr. Reiss’ lectures on James Joyce announced.”

“If I understand him right you have some very choice Joyciana and are also about to publish a book on Joyce. I would very much like to mention that in one of my columns, if you are agreeable.”

“It so happens I am an old friend of the Joyces.”

Item #7. 9/7/51 – From John J. Slocum to Kees van Hoek, Frankfurt.

“I will bring the preliminary draft of the manuscript of the bibliography on Joyce that I have prepared with Herbert Cahoon of the New York Public Library as you may interested in seeing it.”

Item #8. 9/4/51 – From Marvin Magalaner to John Slocum.

“My dissertation on DUBLINERS, which your manuscripts helped so much to make successful, was finished last April and my doctorate granted. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your kindness in letting me use the material.”

Item #9. 9/20/51 – From John J. Slocum to Marvin Magalaner, Forest Hills, New York.

“I would like very much to read your dissertation but I am afraid I will have to put off this pleasure in view of the fact that Frankfurt is a long way from the Rare Book Room of the New York Public Library.”

Item #10. 8/12/51 – From Henry Gersen (Gerson) to Mr. Slocum.

Copies of “Sight and Sound”.  Mentions “Communist Simone”

Gives list of books about James Joyce found in the Geneva Municipal Library. Mentions Bertram Rota.

“We spoke about you and hope that your silence is not to be interpreted as an official distance and inaccessible attitude?”

Item #11. 8/21/51 – From Henry Gersen (Gerson) to Mr. Slocum.

“I feel that I am underserving of all the kindness you have shown me … the valuable editions of John Masefield and now these most fascinating autographs of the British Poet Laureate.”

Mentions Bartam Rota and Malraux’s “Psychology of Art.”

Gersen sending a small book about American Literature … “Joyce is mentioned in these pages.”

Item #12. 8/26/51 – From Henry Gersen (Gerson) to Mr. Slocum.

“Rota informs he that he has written to let you know that, contrary to my expectations, he cannot at present obtain for you the Malraux in London. “

Item #13. 9/26/51 – From John J. Slocum to Henry Gersen, Paris VII, France.

Regarding a professor in Zurich, “I would like to tell you that he has an important Joyce association, namely, a series of love letters written by Joyce to a young lady of Zurich during the time that he and his wife were in residence in that city.” The professor who owned the letters, “replied with great delicacy that he did not think that should be done as long as Mrs. Joyce was alive. Perhaps now that Mrs. Joyce is dead, however, he may be willing to show them to me.”

Extraordinary (and mesmerizing) content.

(Addendum: from Bill Brockman, “The ‘series of love letters’ would be those written by Joyce to Marthe Fleischmann in Zurich in 1918 and 1919, published by Richard Ellmann in Letters of James Joyce, volume 2, in 1966. The letters remain in a private collection.”)

Item #14. 10/21/51 – From Roger McHugh, University College, Dublin to Dear John.

“Many moons have waxed and waned since you asked me about the —- and Joyce.” Wonderful content on Joyce references, upcoming articles, and John Kelleher’s death.

Item #15. 10/23/51 – Dr. Jacob Schwartz

“Notes on the remarks of Dr. Jacob Schwartz at the meeting of the James Joyce Society, New York, Oct. 23, 1951” (initialed “H.C.” at bottom. Likely Herbert Cahoon)

Superb content.  Particularly drawn to, “Quinn believed that Joyce’s bad teeth affected his eyes.”

This is an extraordinary piece of history for the still active James Joyce Society to review.  Would be interesting to see the meeting notes for this event.  Richard M. Kain’s “Program of the James Joyce Society, N.Y., 1947-1968” records the featured speaker for the October 23, 1951 meeting as, “Joseph Campbell on Finnegans Wake. Recorded by Folkways, FP 93-94.”

**Dr. Jacob Schwartz was a controversial figure in Joycean circles. See the blog post by Laurence Worms, “The Great Extractor.”  Schwartz is described as “patently dispossessed” … “entertaining ruffian” … “The Great Extractor” … “colourful.”

(Addendum: from Bill Brockman, “Jacob Schwartz, erratic as your inventory describes, was nevertheless one of the first dealers in Joyce letters and manuscripts. See my ‘Jacob Schwartz–‘The Fly in the Honey” in Joyce Studies Annual 9 (1998): 174-90.”)

Item #16. 11/9/51 – From Malcolm Merritt to Mr. John Slocum.

The James Joyce Society – society, membership, officer information.

“Joseph Campbell read selections from Finnegans Wake and Dr. Jacob Schwartz and Mr. Spoeri of Chicago spoke on aspects of collecting.”

Item #17. 11/19/51 – From “James J. Slocum” (typist changed Slocum’s first name from James to John. Perhaps in honor of Joyce himself?) to Malcolm Merritt.

“Many thanks for your good letter concerning the first meeting of the James Joyce Society and I wish I might have been there to have heard that rascal Jake Schwartz quote “from his deep mine of misinformation” on Joyce.”

Amazing content.  Schwartz has a poorly colored reputation as can be seen by many blog posts. This is highly quotable content for future scholars.

Item #18. 12/7/51 – From Hans S. Reiss to Mr. Slocum.

Mentions Professor Ernst Robert Curtius.  “He probably would be very helpful with any queries you might have about Joyce and Joyceana.”

Also Reiss’ book on Kafka. Handwritten postscript on verso.

Item #19. 12/13/51 – From James Fuller Spoerri to Dear John.

Acknowledges receipt of the Bremer Presse books

1918 Grant Richards’ DUBLINERS

“I am sure Herb told you the whole story of Schwartz’ slandering the Titus’ ULYSSES and how in a long story to us he later rehabilitated the volume to his satisfaction … Schwartz is a strange and complex character.  He is quite certain that other people’s information or ideas are wrong and that his knowledge is correct.”

“I have just saved a young bookseller from the clutches of the postal inspectors”

Item #20. 12/18/51 – From John J. Slocum to Herbert Cahoon, New York Public Library.

“I certainly appreciate you keeping me advised of the Joyce stuff that is available.”

“Please send me the new edition of EXILES and also a copy of the portable JOYCE as I loaned mine to the wife of the AP bureau chief here and will probably never see it again.”

Item #21. 12/18/51 – From John J. Slocum to Professor Ernst Robert Curtius, Bonn.

“I am taking the liberty of writing you on the basis of my acquaintance with your writings in modern literature, specifically of James Joyce.”

Mentions upcoming publication of bibliography by Yale University Press, the Office of the U.S. High Commissioner, and possible omissions in his manuscript.

Item #22. (? 12/25/1951) – From Hans S. Reiss to Mr. Slocum.

Arrived safely with (Kafka) manuscript.

Mentions James Laughlin and a Professor Rose

Item #23. 1/4/52 – From Hans S. Reiss to Mr. Slocum.

“Mentions Professor Curtius, Owen Sheehy-Skeffington, owner of a possible “rare pamphlet of Joyce.” (perhaps Day of the Rabblement). (Per Wikipedia, Sheeny-Skeffington’s father was a friend and classmate of Joyce at University College Dublin.)

Mentions Kafka manuscript and James Laughlin.”

Item #24. 2/11/52 – From James Laughlin to James T. Babb, Librarian, Yale University Library.

Laughlin wishes to include Slocum manuscript fragment in upcoming publication of Joyce’s STEPHEN HERO.

“However, we seem to have run into a serious snag in the fact that Mr. Pearson seems to feel that the Yale Library should exact a fee for use of this material. Frankly, I find this rather astonishing.”

Amazing content.  Mentions Joyce Estate, copyright issues and contract with items at Harvard Library.

Item #25. 3/7/52 – From Bertram Rota to John J. Slocum, Esq.

Item 282 in catalogue “Beaux Livres” regarding “Joyce (James) – Injunction. Paris, June. 1929”

“I did not know before that there were supposed to be only ten copies of the Paris printing of the American Injunction against Samuel Roth for pirating ‘Ulysses’.”

In his essay, “Collecting James Joyce,” Slocum writes, “I cannot leave London without saying how helpful that great bookseller Bertram Rota was to me over many, many years and how much material he found for me.” (John J. Slocum, “Collecting James Joyce,” Gazette of the Grolier Club New Series No. 33/34, 1981-1982, page 12).

Fascinating reference

Item #26. 3/12/52 – From Ben Abramson (1898-1955), Argus Books (In Chicago 1920-1944, and in NY 1944-1953) to John Slocum, Esq.

“What is the status of the Joyce bibliography? Has any date been fixed as yet?”

The Argus Shop correspondence are held at Yale’s Beinecke Library. (YCAL MSS 427)

Item #27. 3/17/52 – From Peter du Sautoy to Mr. John Slocum.

“I should like to give you a copy of the new edition of Stuart Gilbert’s book on ULYSSES, which we have just published.”

“Very slow progress seems to be made with the James Joyce letters.”

“What progress is being made with your Joyce Bibliography?”

“Donald Gallup has completed his work on the Eliot bibliography.”

Item #28. 3/23/52 – From Professor E.R. Curtius, Bonn to Dear Mr. Slocum.

“It is not for me that I seek publicity (I abhor it) but for author William Goyen, 34, from Texas, whose first novel ‘The House of Breath’ (1950) impressed me so deeply that I undertook to translate it …”

“Goyen is completely destitute and lonely.”  Curtius goes on to ask Slocum to promote Goyen and Curtius’ translation. “I hope you will not consider me as a troublesome meddler.”

“It may interest you that I have discovered three short notes from Joyce among my papers.”

Item #29. 4/25/52 – From John J. Slocum to Mr. Luis Lopez-Ballesteros.

“May I express my appreciation for your kindness in sending me the bibliographical items about James Joyce in Spain.”

Item #30. 5/19/52 – From James T. Babb, Yale University Librarian to Francis B. Hamlin, Esq., Hamlin, Hubbell and Davis.

“I enclose a Yale University check to the order of John J. Slocum for $5,835 as a final payment on the sum of $10,370 which we owe Mr. Slocum in order to acquire the portion of his collection of James Joyce as listed in the agreement which we signed with him.”

This was the cover letter in the Slocum estate sale.

Item #31. 5/19/52 – From James T. Babb, Yale University Librarian to Francis B. Hamlin, Esq. Hamlin, Hubbell and Davis.

Copy of letter with post-script to John J. Slocum.

Item #32. 6/11/52 – From RHD to Mr. Herbert Cahoon, New York Public Library.

“I am overjoyed to hear that the manuscript of the Joyce bibliography is now finished and in the hands of Yale.”

A proposal to print the bibliography in England and export to the US.

Mentions Soho bibliographies, Yeats volume, “interim copyright,” Bank of England, post-war firm, import quota

Item #33. 5/24/53 – From “Dick” (Richard Ellmann, Yale 1939) to Dear John.

Extraordinary content!

On “Gilbert,” possibly Stuart Gilbert, “I tried very hard to find out when he would publish the letters, but he was very evasive, and I got the feeling that his collection is still inadequate.”),

Mentions Miss Weaver, Curran’s letters, Patricia Greacen, Valery Larbaud correspondence, library at Vichy, John Sullivan.

Also Rodgers, George Roberts (who rejected “Dubliners” in 1912! Joyce published a scathing poem about Roberts the following year (“Gas from a Burner”)), early notes for Ulysses in color, Sylvia Beach, Portrait, Stansilaus.

Mrs. Managhan (Joyce’s sister), M.E. Jeanson, Routledge, (Henri) Michaux translation.

“I enclose also a copy of a letter Joyce wrote to Mrs. Kettle after her husband’s death.”

Transcript of condolence letter from Joyce to May Kettle included!  (“Mary Sheehy (Kettle) … had been the muse of the adolescent James Joyce and is the model for the lead female character in Joyce’s story Araby from his collection Dubliners, as well as Miss Ivors in his story The Dead from the same collection” Wikipedia on Tom Kettle)

***Landmark letter.

Item #34. 8/14/53 – From John J. Slocum to Mr. Donagh MacDonagh.

“I am also hoping to make a list of all the books in Joyce’s library prior to 1915, and I therefore was very happy to have the information about your copy of Hauptmann’s ‘The Weavers’.”

Slocum has reviewed “almost all of the literary publications in England, France, Ireland, Germany, America, and Italy between the years 1900 and 1940 … and I always welcome any reference to original publication or a publication of critical material about Joyce in the little magazines.”

Item #35. 12/2/53 – From Hon. Eugene Sheehy to John J. Slocum.

Handwritten letter. “I was a school companion of his at Belvedere College, later at University College Dublin, and the Daniel referred to in “Stephen Hero” was my Father.”

“I have written a book “May It Please the Court” in which I deal with the lighter side of Joyce’s character at School + University.”

Mentions letter which Joyce wrote to Sheehy’s father on the death of his brother.  And the letter written to Judge Sheey’s sister, Mrs. Kettle, on the death of Tom Kettle.

***Extraordinary content from Joyce classmate and contemporary.

***Landmark letter.

Item #36. 1/16/54 – From John J. Slocum to Hon. Eugene Sheehy.

“I have made a considerable study of Joyce’s letters and have found that the most neglected period of his life is up to about 1910.”

Asks Sheehy to set the original price for his materials.  Mentions deluxe copy of CHAMBER MUSIC.

Attached is the original letter from Circuit Judge Eugene Sheehy to Slocum.

Item #37. 2/22/54 – From John J. Slocum to Donagh MacDonagh, Esq.

“I don’t know which is considered the most undesirable in Dublin, Joyce or Gogarty, but perhaps this letter with Dr. Gogarty’s comments might cause a certain amount of amusement.”

“Sorry to have troubled you with my request concerning Joyce’s godfather, but this is a mystery that no one has been able to figure out, as the only godfather identified by Gorman, Philip McCann, never got out of Dublin or at least in the direction of Mullingar.”

“As you know, Richard Ellman (sic) is writing a biography of Joyce.” (Richard Ellmann was Yale 1939, see 5/24/1953 Ellmann letter)

Two online sources list Joyce’s godfather as Philip McCann.

Item #38. 2/25/54 – From James F. Spoerri to Miss Frances Hamill.

Asks for “both the source of and the present ownership of the three books owned by Joyce as a young man which you once offered Slocum.”

(Addendum 10/20/22 – Spoerri names the three books which were “all printed in Milan.” With thanks to Ronan Crowley for reaching out to share more information on the books’ provenance and current location.)

Item #39. 2/26/1854 – From Dr. H.K. Croessmann, Optometrist, to Mr. James F. Spoerri.

“Re yours of the 25th with reference to the books I have that were Joyce’s in his undergraduate days and about which Mr. Slocum wants information:”

Croessmann shares details of provenance of the six Joyce books in his collection.

Item #40. 3/1/54 – From Margery Barker, Hamill & Barker to Mr. John J. Slocum.

“Ordinarily we are pleased to pass on requests such as Mr. Spoerri has made for you but, in this case, I feel that it would perhaps be ill-advised. It is my impression that the buyer prefers to remain entirely anonymous.”

Item #41. 3/1/54 – From Jim (James F. Spoerri) to Harley (H.K. Croessmann) with copy to John Slocum.

“Dear Harley, I was certainly asleep at the switch.”

Poignant mea culpa which is well understood among collectors and bibliophiles!

Item #42. 3/4/54 – From Dr. H.K. Croessmann, Optometrist to Mr. James F. Spoerri.

BBC radio presentation of Ulysses abandoned.

“The Perturbed Young Celt”

“Stanislaus was the speaker”

Picture of Ibsen

Cyril Cusack

Parts of Stephen Hero dramatized

Item #43. From John J. Slocum

Page 2 of a letter

“just breeze ahead and do what you want with it, only my position in relation to the other Joycians is such that I would hate to be charged with having OK’d this, nor would Yale be happy that I do so.”

“On the Piccolo business, I think your conscience should be your guide.” Amazing content and insight on piracy, copyright, the Joyce estate, and Slocum’s own interests.

“I wish I could sit in on your Joyce course and I envy living in that delightful part of the world.”

Item #44. Stanislaus Joyce, Recollections of James Joyce by his Brother. Manuscript

Translated from the Italian by Ellsworth Mason

The James Joyce Society

Item #45. Lucie Noel, James Joyce and Paul Leon: The Story of a Friendship. Manuscript

In his essay, “Collecting James Joyce,” Slocum writes, “The most moving experience I had in Paris was to meet Lucie Noel of the Paris Herald, the widow of Paul L. Leon, who for Joyce’s last ten years in Paris had served as his voluntary business manager-secretary, and had, I think, enabled him to finish Finnegan’s Wake.” (John J. Slocum, “Collecting James Joyce,” Gazette of the Grolier Club New Series No. 33/34, 1981-1982, page 12).


  1. Lucie Noel, James Joyce And Paul L. Léon: The Story Of A Friendship (1950)
  2. Stanislaus Joyce, Recollections of James Joyce By His Brother (1950)
  3. John J. Slocum and Herbert Cahoon, A Bibliography of James Joyce (1882-1941) (1953, 1971 reprint) 
  4. Marjorie G. Wynne and Mary T. Reynolds, James Joyce 1882-1941. Catalogue of a Centenary Exhibition in The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Yale University 23 December 1981-26 March 1982.
  5. William S. Reese (ed.), James Joyce issue, Gazette of the Grolier Club New Series No. 33/34 1981-82. – A remarkable primary source.  Includes candid talks by Herbert Cahoon and John J. Slocum.  Also an overview of the leading Joyce collections, whose benefactors (Spoerri and Croessmann among them) are represented in these papers.
  6. Kain, Richard M. “A Joyce Bibliography.” The Sewanee Review, vol. 61, no. 4, 1953, pp. 717–22. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27538327. Accessed 16 Oct. 2022.

With special thanks

With special thanks to Heather Smith, MD who graciously alerted me to the Slocum/Joyce papers while she was at the Slocum estate sale in July 2017. As mentioned above, I was unable to connect with her via phone, and our text messages reveal the incredible (and at times, frantic) interest I had once I read Slocum’s NYTimes obituary and Yale’s James Joyce Collection description.

Also with thanks to Roy Carlson MD, Basie Gitlin, Dan Pickett, David Richards, Robert Snyder, Timothy Young, Lawrence Zazzo, and the Joyce scholars (Bill Brockman, Ronan Crowley, Jonathan Goldman, Paul Saint-Amour, Robert Spoo). Their insights led to additional research and highlighted many items in the collection.

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