Irish Roots . . . Bloomier and bloomier
Alfred Henry Hunter is the Dubliner long known to be the model for the hero of Joyce’s Ulysses, Leopold Bloom. In 1904, after rescuing Joyce from a drunken fight, Hunter took him home and showed him a paternal sympathy that resonated deeply with Joyce, who originally planned Ulysses as a short story. It expanded between 1914 and 1922, and the figure at its centre changed from the kindly Hunter to the Everyman Bloom.
The James Joyce Centre’s website (jamesjoyce.ie) still refers to Hunter as “an elusive figure”. However, with all the records now online, his life is an open book.
Here he isin Mount Street in 1901, with his wife Marion Bruére Hunter (née Quin). He gives his occupation as “Gentleman”, and then crosses it out, but Marion remains a “Lady”. Very Bloom-like.
In 1911 they’re in Great Charles Street, less than five minutes from Bloom’s Eccles Street address. Hunter is now an advertising agent, as Bloom was. His marriage to Marion took place in London in 1899: see freebmd.org.uk. He was born in Ballymacarret in 1866. His parents, William Hunter and Maria Lockhart, were married in Maghera in 1856: bit.ly/1Htun74. His death in 1926 was from “cardiac asthenia”, congestive heart failure. And Marion wasregistered in the voters lists for Rutland Street in Dublin’s north city centre up to 1942.
In 1890, Hunter even registered a patent of an invention “for facilitating the unlacing of boots and shoes and corsets and such like”, as reported in The Weekly Irish Times of November 14 1890. Bloomier and Bloomier*.
Given Joyce’s penchant for using identifiable individuals, an intriguing question is why Hunter had to be re-imagined as Jewish. Perhaps Everyman as a Northern Protestant was a step too far, even for Joyce.
And perhaps, just for this year, Bloomsday should be Alfred Hunter Day.
*Full links, and evidence of Hunter online, at irishtimes. firstname.lastname@example.org