No. 4 NAI DFA 339/124
BERNE, 5 February 1941
With reference to previous correspondence regarding the death of Mr. James Joyce, I have to state that a friend of the Joyce family, Mrs. Giedion-Welcker, Zurich, called to see me today with reference to Mrs. Joyce's circumstances. Mrs. Giedion stated that the family, consisting of Mrs. Joyce, her son George, and his child Stephen, have had to move from the pension at Zurich, where they were prior to Mr. Joyce's death, to a three-room flat at 220 Swiss francs a month where they manage without a servant. Mr. George Joyce is a singer by profession, she informed me, but he has been so far unable to obtain permission from the Swiss authorities to accept engagements. He has therefore no earnings.
Mrs. Joyce's income is stated to be precarious. She received 500 dollars from an American publishing firm in respect of one of her husband's books, and it appears that the family were in receipt of assistance from a Quaker lady in England. This latter has now ceased owing, it is said, to the impossibility of getting money from England.
Mrs. Giedion also stated that when the family decided to come to Switzerland, the question arose of depositing 40,000 Swiss francs as a guarantee, before the Swiss authorities would grant the necessary permit. This, after various representations, was reduced to 20,000 francs. Towards the latter sum, an American paid 4,300 francs, and Prof. and Mrs. Giedion the balance, 15,700 francs, pending the participation of some other Americans who had promised to share in the guarantee. Interest amounting to 1,000 francs a year has to be paid by Mrs. Joyce, or by someone for her, to the Bank which advanced the amount on shares held by the Giedions. As, for some reason or other, the further American participation has not matured, Prof. and Mrs. Giedion now find themselves, after Mr. Joyce's death, with most of their assets tied up in the guarantee. Mrs. Giedion was anxious to know if any Dublin friends, official or other, would be likely to assist the family or to do something in the way of taking over the guarantee. She stated that her husband may later obtain a professor- ship at an American University, and she does not know how they will manage with their assets tied up, if this should happen. The Giedions also signed a Declaration to the Swiss Authorities to the effect that they would take Mr. and Mrs. Joyce into their own house if at any time the family became destitute.
Miss Lucia Joyce, the daughter, is as you are aware, in a clinic in occupied France. I do not know what payment has to be made in respect of her maintenance there. The daughter-in-law, George's wife, who is an American, is also in a clinic for mental cases in the United States. She had a break-down, Mrs. Giedion states, at Paris following the bombardments.
Mrs. Giedion seemed to have no clear idea of Mrs. Joyce's actual income, except that she states that the family now seem to 'have nothing behind them'. Little income apparently is coming from Mr. Joyce's books, and whatever effects he had – books, pictures, etc. – are stated to be in the rented furnished flat which he had occupied at Paris.
I told Mrs. Giedion that I did not know that anything could be done in the matter officially or otherwise, but that I would send a report regarding her representations, to my Department in Dublin.
I understand that the Joyce family hold British passports. A member of the British Legation here – Lord Derwent1– told me that he had been trying to do something but without success. He also asked if the Irish Authorities could do anything to help the family.
[signed] F. T. CREMINS
The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.
The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....