James Joyce


(London: Grant Richards, 1914)

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“Dear Mr. Grant Richards I have received your letter of 29 April [1915] with statement of sales up to 31 December by which I see that 379 copies of Dubliners were sold in the United Kingdom. I was sorry that neither you nor I have gained anything.”

- Letter from James Joyce to Grant Richards, 7 May 1915

The first edition of Dubliners caused difficulties for both author and publisher. Joyce spent the better part of a decade working to get his stories published, and after many setbacks, hesitations, and compromises, Grant Richards finally saw the book into print in 1914. It didn’t sell well—only 379 copies in the first year—and neither Joyce nor Richards saw any significant financial gains from the first edition.

One of the most visible features of this edition is the use of inverted commas to mark direct discourse. Richards insisted on this punctuation style in order to normalize the text, against the wishes of Joyce who preferred the use of em-dashes to mark dialogue.

As Richards prepared this edition of Dubliners, there were a number of ideas and suggestions that never quite made it into the book. Joyce wished to include a narration of the previous failed attempted to get the book published as an advertisement for the piece. Since Richards had turned the book down once already, the piece did not place him in a positive light, and he brushed off the suggestion. Instead, Richards liked the idea of having an introduction to the stories written by a more established writer. He considered Filson Young, who had written Ireland at the Cross Roads: An Essay in Explanation (1904) which Richards also published. The publisher abandoned this idea also.