James Joyce autographed letter to feature in PBA Galleries sale

An autographed letter written by James Joyce in May 1936 regarding his daughter Lucia's mental health is up for auction at PBA Galleries on July 31.

It carries an estimate of $5,000-8,000 and was written to Cyril Yeates, husband of Joyce's cousin Gretta.

James Joyce letter
Joyce wrote the letter to Cyril Yeates, husband of his cousin Gretta, in 1936

The letter reads in full: "Dear Yeates: This is just to thank you and Gretta for you promptness in making inquiries. I shall not be able to come to a decision for about a fortnight.

"At the present moment the general opinion of the doctors is that it is definitely not an incurable case and probably not now to any great extent even a mental case but one of acute nervous disequilibrium.

"If that is so either the diagnoses of a dozen of the leading psychiatrists in Europe that it was a progressing demential case of the kind which is finally incurable if it progresses were all wrong or the series of injections at the eleventh hour as arrested the final stage.

"In any case her transfer here was a psychological blunder which has to be undone. Sincerely yours, James Joyce."

Lucia Joyce began to exhibit signs of schizophrenia during the early 1930s, while she was dating the writer Samuel Beckett, and was institutionalised in 1935.

It's thought that Finnegan's Wake, Joyce's fiendishly complex swansong, was inspired in part by his daughter's condition.  

In December last year, a first edition copy of Joyce's Dubliners made $141,500 at Sotheby's.

The sale will also feature a rare first edition copy of Henry David Thoreau's Walden; Or, Life in the Woods - valued at $15,000.

Check out all our rare books here.

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