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Nora Joseph Barnacle (Connemara, Ireland, March 21 or 24, 1884 – Zurich, April 10, 1951) was the only wife of Irish writer James Joyce and mother of his two children. Although born in Ireland, Nora Barnacle lived most of her life abroad, mainly in Switzerland.
Despite the accusations and criticism of not having been a good partner, [quote required] Joyce married Nora with whom she lived since 1904. In fact, Nora seems to be reflected in female characters of each work of Joyce: After Joyce’s death in Zurich, in 1941, Nora decided to stay there, dying ten years later, in 1951, of acute renal failure at the age of 67.
Brenda Maddox wrote a feminist biography of Nora Barnacle entitled Nora, which was taken to the movies in 1999, with the same title, in a film directed by Pat Murphy and starring Susan Lynch and Ewan McGregor.
Nora Barnacle, the oldest of seven children, was born in Galway, County Galway, Ireland. The day of his birth is not clear, some references put him between March 21 and 24, 1884. His father, Thomas Barnacle, was an illiterate baker who was 38 years old when Nora was born. Her mother, Annie Honoraria Healy, who was 10 years younger than her husband and worked as a seamstress, lived in her home in Galway until her death in 1940.
When Nora was small, between 1886 and 1889, her parents sent her to live with her maternal grandmother. During those years he began studying in a convent. In 1896 he started working in a laundry while continuing his studies. That same year, his mother separated from his father because he was an alcoholic. Nora lived then with her mother and uncle Tom Healy, on Bowling Green Street, in the city of Galway.
Nora was tall and Margaret Anderson said of her in 1930 that she was “one of those women that a man loves forever and hopes to be able, one day, to strangle”. Maddox, in her book Nora, describes her as “a skillful woman, quick in thought and with a great sense of humor.” James Joyce’s father, upon hearing the surname of the woman with whom his son had eloped from the island said: “She will stay with him.” (In English, Barnacle, Nora’s surname, is a crustacean of the Cirripedia class. Similar to the limpets, it remains immobile attached to the rocks throughout its life. This coincidence is highlighted by the translator José María Valverde in his prologue to Ulises.
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