02 August 2008

Et Tu Healy? James Joyce, 1891 (revisited)

"His quaint-perched aerie on the crags of Time
Where the rude din of this . . . century
Can trouble him no more."

James Joyce. ET TU HEALY? (PARNELL.) Privately Published /Alleyn and O'Reilly (Printers), Dublin 1891.

Possible Selling Price
£1,000,000+ / $2,000,000+

This is an update of an earlier post with new info at the end. 'Et Tu Healy' is a broadsheet poem by James Joyce said to have been published by John Joyce, his proud father, in 1891 when Joyce was nine years old. No copies have ever surfaced. There is, however, highly credible evidence for its having been printed and distributed among friends and family. Whether any copies have survived is another matter. The evidence comes from 4 sources - Joyce's father, Joyce himself, his brother Stanislaus Joyce and the dealer Jacob Schwartz of the Ulysses bookshop in High Holborn, London.
Stanislaus Joyce wrote in his 'Recollections of James Joyce' (1950)
He tried poetry, too, in the style of the drawing-room ballads to which he was accustomed ('My cot, alas!, the dear old shady home'), but the most successful was a piece on the death of Parnell, which I see mentioned apparently with my brother's sanction, by the title of 'Et Tu, Healy', though I do not remember that it bore that title. It certainly was a diatribe against the supposed traitor, Tim Healy, who had ratted at the bidding of the Catholic bishops and become a virulent enemy of Parnell, and so the piece was an echo of those political rancours that formed the theme of my father's nightly half-drunken rantings to the accompaniment of vigorous table-thumping. I think it was in verse because of the rhythm of bits of it that I remember. One line is a pentameter. At the end of the piece the dead Chief is likened to an eagle, looking down on the grovelling mass of Irish politicians from

His quaint-perched aerie on the crags of Time
Where the rude din of this . . . century
Can trouble him no more.

The production was much admired by my father and his circle of friends, whose judgement, in questions of literature at least, was as immature as the budding author's. My father had it printed, and distributed the broad sheets to admirers. I have a distinct recollection of my father's bringing home a roll of thirty or forty of them. Parnell, however, died when we were still at Bray, so the piece must have been written some months or a year after Parnell's death, because I am positive that the broadsheet was printed when we were living at Blackrock. My brother was, therefore, between nine and ten years of age when his ambition to be a writer bore its first timid blossoms. The lines I have quoted have stuck in my memory because 'the dear aerie' were standing jokes between us as late as when we were living at Trieste. Moreover, in the first draft of A Portrait of the Artist, now called Stephen Hero, the poem was assigned to the period I have indicated, and, further, describing a hasty packing up and departure from Blackrock, my brother referred to the remaining broadsheets, of which the young Stephen Dedalus had been so proud, lying on the floor torn and muddied by the boots of the furniture removers.
Richard Ellmann, Joyce's bographer, has always insisted that Stanislaus Joyce was a man of great integrity and a truthful and reliable source of information.

Ellmann reports in his biography that John Joyce (who died in 1931 and didn't think much of his son's Ulysses) told dealer Jacob Schwartz in regard to the broadsheet: "Remember it? Why shouldn't I remember it? Didn't I pay for the printing of it and didn't I send a copy to the Pope?' I have heard that some enterprising dealer went to Rome and managed to check the Vatican's holdings without any success. It is not surprising, because even if it had arrived there a broadsheet is likely to be misplaced or, at best, miscatalogued. There is some suggestion that the piece may have been called 'Parnell' - and our dealer may not have looked under 'P.'

I do not have Slocum's bibliography with me (I am in San Francisco) but I recall something about a receipt for the printing having been seen by a reliable witness. I know that Slocum quotes four further lines from the poem:
My cot alas that dear old shady home
Where oft in youthful sport I played
Upon thy verdant grassy fields all day
Or lingered for a moment in thy bosom shade.
Joyce remarked to Harriet Weaver that he had parodied these lines in 'Finnegans Wake.'

So where is this valuable item? If it is around a copy would be with the Joyce family or relations or Blackrock friends and neighbours the Murrays, Monaghans, Thorntons, Sheehans, Gallahers etc., A surviving copy could show up loosely inserted in some sheet music, or old Dublin Newspapers or magazines or in a scrap album or possibly bound up with other poems and pamphlets.

It is not unthinkable a copy would survive, for example such ephemeral items as the auction catalogue of the disgraceful and hurried auction at Oscar Wilde's house in Tite Street show up every now and then. However Joyce's vision of removal men treading the paper into the ground is all too believable. Also, as Ellmann notes, there was a lot of shame and disgrace around the Joyce name in Ireland after the supposed obscenity of 'Ulysses' was reported there - so any remaining copies could have then been destoyed.

There are many instances of books that were published with no copies having survived, mostly minor works. The most famous, and certainly even more valuable than 'Healy' if it ever turned up, is the Shakespeare play 'Love's Labors Won.' The dealer Pottesman ('Potty' - a great runner of incunabula) discovered in 1953 the August 1603 booklist of the stationer Christopher Hunt, which lists as printed in quarto:"Marchant Of Vennis[sic], Taming Of A Shrew, Loves Labor Lost, Loves Labor Won." There is other evidence but in general it is more doubtful than the Joyce juvenilia.

VALUE? Joyce published 2 other broadsheets 'The Holy Office' (1904/5) and 'Gas from a Burner' (1912) which show up irregularly at serious money. 2 not bad copies showed up at the 2004 sale of the much loved Quentin Keynes making £27000 (Holy) and £14,000 (Gas). The Joyce market is strong but fickle, collectors (not always cultured) come and go. At one point Joyce highspot prices depended on the severity of North American winters, as the biggest punter was a glove manufacturer. From the Quentin results one could very vaguely extrapolate a price if 'Et Tu Healy' showed. Say 30 times the pair + £200K for luck = £1.43 million or $2.7 million. There is a limit because it is the work of a nine year old boy, very slight and damn it, another could turn up!

Compiled in an airport hotel room using an Ellmann from a local bookshop, a paperback of Stanislaus, memory of bookdealer's anecdotes, Google, speculation, leaps of faith and Peet's good coffee. If anyone can shed any further light please write or comment, might touch it up when I get home to my own reference library.

Addenda August 08. I now have the bibliography and also Herbert Gorman's book 'James Joyce. A Definitive Biography' in front of me. Slocum, the bibliographer, points to Gorman as the source for the name of the printer. It was Alleyn and O'Reilly, although Slocum say it was actually Alley and O'Reilly--'the firm...was traced through a series of mergers to the Temple Press; a director of this press stated that all records were destroyed during Easter Week in 1916.' Copies may have been lost during this 'rising' or rebellion that lasted from April 24 to April 30 mostly in Dublin, although someone somewhere is said to have seen the receipt. Slocum states that the pamphlet is mentioned in unpublished letters from Constantine P.Curran and P.S. O'Hegarty in the Slocum Library. I like Gorman's final words on the subject
'No copy of this juvenile outburst aginst injustice and treachery is known to exist but it is still possible that some fortunate explorer fumbling through yellowed pages in a neglected Dublin garret may chance upon this Joycian opus number one of the year 1891.'
The search goes on - how many unexplored, neglected Dublin garrets are left!?


Anonymous said...

It's been suggested that Love's Labours Won was actually another name for All's Well that Ends Well.

Anonymous said...

I found a copy of Et Tu Healy and wiped my Unicorns arse with it.

Anonymous said...

It is a great book that is worth having regardless of the collectors market