Daughter of Joyce's friend donates works to centre


THE SPIRIT of one of James Joyce’s closest friends made a welcome return to Dublin yesterday when Joan Budgen, daughter of Frank Budgen, presented several of her father’s most important books by the author to the James Joyce Centre in the city.

Frank Budgen and his family were in Dublin in 1967 for the first James Joyce symposium, and yesterday his daughter returned to ensure that his friendship with Joyce will be memorialised in the city.

Budgen (1882-1971) was an English artist and former sailor who found himself in Zurich at the start of the first World War. While there he made the acquaintance of Joyce, who had fled to neutral Switzerland from Trieste. The two became friendly, often drinking together at the Zurich establishment, Die Pfauen. Joyce talked freely to Budgen about Ulysses, which he was then writing, and his letters to Budgen about the book are by far the most revealing and important that he wrote. Budgen wrote his own account of his interaction with Joyce, James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses, which appeared in 1934.

At yesterday’s event, Joan Budgen was welcomed by Deirdre Ellis-King, chairwoman of the Joyce Centre board, Senator David Norris, Joyce’s grandnephew Bob Joyce and several other board members and Joyceans. Among those present was Dublin Joycean Vivien Igoe, who remembers Budgen back in 1967 and who has several souvenirs of his visit.

Both Prof Ellis-King and Mr Norris stressed how much the centre valued, not just the gift of the books themselves, but even more the spirit of generosity and goodwill which had led to this donation. Ms Budgen, a sturdy septuagenarian, remembered her father talking about Joyce both to the family and to the many people who called to their London home seeking more information. After a career in business in London, she now lives in Bath.

Among the books donated by Ms Budgen is a first edition of Joyce’s collection of poems, Pomes Penyeach, several volumes of what came to be Finnegans Wake, including one with a cover designed by his daughter Lucia, and a first edition (1918) of his play Exiles. There are also some sketches of Joyce, including one of him and the artist at Die Pfauen. All these, and more, will now have a special place in the Joyce Centre and in the city of Joyce’s birth.