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Harriet Shaw Weaver

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posted on 2023-06-19, 14:53 authored by Dirk Van HulleDirk Van Hulle
Harriet Shaw Weaver

English magazine editor and publisher of books, a feminist and socialist activist who financially supported modernist writers, chief among them JJ. Born in an affluent family, she invested part of her inheritance in the Irish writer.

Privately educated, Weaver was not allowed to go to university, so she worked as a social worker and took evening classes. She became active in the suffragist movement, joined the Women's Social and Political Union, and financially supported a more radical group's journal The Freewoman, which in 1913 became The New Freewoman and then The Egoist. At the suggestion of Ezra Pound, Weaver began to publish installments of JJ's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in The Egoist and then the novel itself through the Egoist Press, set up for that purpose. JJ was paid, although the journal and the press lost money. At the same time, she anonymously sponsored JJ, in Zurich during the war, and she settled a considerable capital of war loans on his name which would allow him to write in peace. At first the gift was anonymous, but in 1919 did JJ learn who the benefactor was.

The early chapters of Ulysses also appeared in The Egoist, but British printers refused to print the novel, so Weaver used copies printed in Dijon which were then smuggled into the UK. In the thirties JJ's financial difficulties, Lucia Joyce's illness and Weaver's insufficient interest in JJ's experiments in Finnegans Wake strained their relationship, although Weaver kept supporting both JJ and his family. After his death she became his literary executor, leaving the Finnegans Wake manuscripts that JJ had been sending her to the British Library and most of the rest of her JJ collection to the National Library of Ireland. Geert Lernout


James Joyce's Unpublished Letters: A Digital Edition and Text-Genetic Study.

Belgian Federal Science Policy Office

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Harriet Shaw Weaver



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68525 and 68527 are addressed to Weaver as anonymous benefactor

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    James Joyce Correspondence: People