Joyce's father, John Stanislaus Joyce


Patrick Tuohy (1894–1930)
Portrait of John Stanislaus Joyce, ca. 1923–24
Oil on canvas
The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, the State University of New York


We cannot overestimate the importance of James Joyce's father in the making of the novel Ulysses. Joyce wrote about him, “I got from him his portraits, a waistcoat, a good tenor voice, and an extravagant licentious disposition.” In the novel Ulysses, Simon Dedalus is a version of John Stanislaus Joyce, James Joyce's father. And obviously the father was a very bad provider for his family, but what Joyce did in the novel was he showed him as a figure on the streets, as a popular man. He was leaving his daughters penniless, but he was also witty. He was good company and of course, he had a beautiful tenor voice that soars especially in the Sirens episode of the novel. About his father's influence on the novel Ulysses, Joyce told a friend, “The humor of Ulysses is his. Its people are his friends. The book is his spittin’ image.”