Last Wednesday, we had an extra special visitor to the James Joyce Tower & Museum when Harriet Shaw Weaver’s grandniece, Harriet (Hatty) Cole, nee Weaver, dropped by for a visit. She was accompanied by Denise Rees and Denise’s daughter, Rachael Roser.
Harriet was on a trip to Ireland at the invitation of Olive Rolestone who is the Monday Coordinator for the Friends of Joyce Tower Society. Olive and she had already met with many of our volunteers at the weekly reading of Ulysses in Fitzgerald’s Pub in Sandycove.
Harriet took a tour of the tower and shared some terrific stories of (and insights into) her Grandaunt’s association with James Joyce.
Here she is, pictured at the tower, with her grandaunt’s image in the background.
During her Irish trip, Harriet enjoyed visits to many Joycean sites including Sweny’s (where PJ entertained) and the National Library where she viewed the very first copy of ‘Ulysses’ donated by her grandaunt. She also visited the Joyce Centre and the National Concert Hall.
By all accounts, Harriet Shaw Weaver (Harriet’s grandaunt) was an extraordinary woman. Born in 1876 to a wealthy family and home schooled (by her governess), Harriet, nonetheless, grew up to become an active political campaigner and socialist. Finding the Labour Party, of which she was a member, too right wing (!) she went so far as to declare herself a communist in 1938.
Harriet was an early advocate for women’s rights and campaigned vigorously for women’s suffrage. She espoused views on ‘free love’ that some might find shocking – even now!
Her contact with James Joyce came through Ezra Pound who brought the pair together when James was struggling to find a British publisher for his novel, ‘Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’. Harriet Shaw Weaver established the Egoist Press and published Joyce’s book in February 1917.
Even more importantly, Harriet became Joyce’s patron and supported him throughout the rest of his life – despite her knowledge of his propensity to overspend!
Joyce and Weaver were to continue a strong connection from 1916 onwards with almost daily correspondence. Harriet reviewed Joyce’s manuscripts, corrected his proofs and became very involved with his family life. Indeed, even after Joyce died, she supported his wife Nora and his daughter Lucia for many years.
Harriet Cole can be extremely proud of her grandaunt without whom, perhaps, Joyce might never have been able to give us his masterpiece, ‘Ulysses’.
Thank you Hatty for your visit – it was a great pleasure to see you at the tower.