James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.
Born in Dublin, Ireland on February 2, 1882 to John Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane "May" Murray, Joyce was the oldest of ten siblings.
Despite a somewhat chaotic family life characterised by financial insecurity, he received a good education at Clongowes Wood College, then Belvedere College and finally studying modern languages, with Latin and logic at University College Dublin (where the library is named for him).
An avid reader and a talented writer, Joyce began publishing poems and short stories in local literary magazines while still a student.
In 1902, he left Ireland for Paris, but was forced to return to Dublin a year later due to a lack of funds. In 1904, he met Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid, and the two fell in love. They had two children, Giorgio and Lucia, and were together until Joyce's death in 1941.
In 1914, Joyce published his first major work, the semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The novel was well-received and established Joyce as a promising new talent in the world of literature. He followed it with Dubliners, a collection of short stories published in 1916.
Ulysses, Joyce's most famous work, was published in 1922. Considered a masterpiece of modernist literature, it follows the lives of a group of characters in Dublin over the course of a single day. For more than a decade, the book now considered the most important work of modernist literature was illegal to sell, advertise or import because it was deemed obscene. Thankfully with help from friends such as W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edward Rockefeller and many others, he managed to stay the course, and the prohibitions were eventually overturned. Ulysses eventually became a commercial and critical success, and cemented Joyce's reputation as one of the greatest writers of his time.
After the publication of Ulysses, Joyce and his family moved to Paris, where he spent the rest of his life. He continued to write and publish, and in 1939, he completed his final work, Finnegans Wake, a highly experimental novel that remains one of the most challenging works of literature ever written.
Joyce died in 1941 at the age of 59. He is buried in Fluntern Cemetery in Zurich, Switzerland.