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McGrath Papers

Identity Statement

Reference Code: P8/
Title: The Edward P. McGrath Papers
Dates: 1904-1963
Extent: 17 Items

Context

Phyliss R. McGrath, widow of Edward P. McGrath, donated the McGrath papers to the University of Limerick in July 2001. Edward McGrath, a professor of English Literature in New York University, had a major research interest in James Joyce.

The collection is based on a single theme, namely, the publishing background to James Joyce's Dubliners. The book did, indeed, have a very strange history. Its journey began in 1904, when Joyce submitted a collection of short stories to the publisher, Grant Richards. It was not until February 1906 that Richards accepted them. Unfortunately, Richards had problems with his printer who refused to set up the print for the story Two Gallants, as he objected to certain passages therein. Richards and Joyce had many debates and arguments about the deletion and modification of this and other passages in the book. Finally in 1907, Richards backed away from publishing the work. In 1909, George Roberts of the Dublin firm, Maunsel & Co., accepted Dubliners and signed a publication contract in August of that year. However, Roberts had second thoughts about its publication soon after and the entire first print run of the book was burned before it was launched. Dubliners was finally published in 1914 by the original publisher, Grant Richards, a full 10 years after it was written.

Content & Structure

McGrath seems to have had a great interest in discovering what influenced two successive publishers to reject the manuscript. Section A of the list contains descriptions of the letters sent to him by various Joycean scholars and biographers, a Jesuit priest and various curators of rare book libraries holding Joyce material. The letters are in the form of replies to requests for information surrounding the rejection of the manuscript by Richards in the first instance and secondly, Roberts. Section B of the list contains McGrath's collection of photostatic copies of Joyce's letters to Richards. The originals of these letters are held in the New York Public Library.

Other items in the collection include an original Seán O'Casey letter to McGrath in which he enclosed a large signed b/w photograph of himself (P8/4). There are also newspaper clippings which comprise of an obituary of Oliver St. John Gogarty (P8/20) and a review of a book about Joyce(P8/21).

Lisa Collins
July 2001

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