James Joyce’s glasses fetch $19,000 at auction


The eyeglasses worn by literary legend James Joyce while he was writing his modernist classic “Ulysses” sold for more than $19,000 at auction on Tuesday in Dublin.

The Irish Post reports that the spectacles were apparently a gift from Joyce to Thomas Pugh, a longtime friend of the pioneering writer. The glasses were sold with a leather case and a gold chain.

Joyce struggled with vision problems. Auctioneer Fonsie Mealy noted that his friend Pugh did as well, the Irish Times reports.


“Pugh also had problems with his eyesight, and became blind in later years,” Mealy said. “Perhaps this was a spare pair, or one Joyce no longer used. Presumably it was given to Pugh on one of his visits to Joyce in Paris.”

A letter from Joyce to Pugh also went under the hammer, selling for nearly $16,000.

Joyce’s glasses weren’t the hottest item at the auction. A copy of William Butler Yeats’ “The Wanderings of Oisin,” inscribed by Yeats to Irish nationalist Maud Gonne, sold for $54,000.

Yeats, the legendary Irish poet, was in love with Gonne, an actress and suffragette, and proposed marriage to her multiple times, all of which she declined. The two remained friends, however.

“It was a friendship which unsettled Yeats’ life for more than 20 years, but gave him a magnificent harvest in his poetry,” Mealy said. “Surviving items inscribed by Yeats to Maud Gonne are now of the greatest rarity.”

Other notable items sold at the Dublin auction included an autographed copy of Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s Nobel Prize lecture, which sold for $11,000. A first edition of the first James Bond book, Ian Fleming’s “Casino Royale,” fetched the same price.