Journal of Genetic Joyce Studies publishes breakthrough article: ‘Was this Atlas Used by James Joyce’ by Tim Johnson

Did James Joyce use this Atlas?

Details of what could prove the greatest James Joyce discovery in years are published today in ‘Genetic Joyce Studies’, the annual online academic journal of Joycean scholarship. 

The discovery is a second-hand world atlas, published in 1903, which has places on many of its maps marked with underlinings, usually in coloured crayon. Literary analysis of the markings shows some of them have a close relationship to references in Joyce’s work, particularly Ulysses. (Tuesday, June 16th, is when the Joycean community celebrates ‘Bloomsday’, the anniversary of the date in 1904 when Ulysses is set.)

For example, markings on a map of ancient Italy reflect a history lesson on the Pyrrhic wars, given by Stephen Dedalus in the second chapter of the book. A blue line under the small town of Cappoquin, in the south-east of Ireland, links directly to Molly Bloom’s soliloquy at the end of the novel, as she remembers her first sexual relationship; ‘Mulveys was the first’ …  ‘Cappoquin he came from he said’.

The Atlas was bought by Tim Johnson from Eamonn’s Bookshop in Sandycove, near Dublin, in July 2019. Called Gall and Inglis’ Imperial Globe Atlas of Modern and Ancient Geography, he bought it simply for the interest of its pre-1914 maps and only later realised the potential link with Joyce.

“I think the literary case that only Joyce could have made these marks is very strong,” Johnson says. “But we must now do forensic analysis to see if we can find out when the marks were made.”

Johnson’s article about the discovery, with his analysis of the links with Ulysses, and many images of the marks in the Atlas, is available online at

See the contents list for the new Spring 2020 issue of the journal  and select ‘Cartographic Excursion’ at the bottom to see and download the pdf.

Tim is available for interview on request to Images of the Sandycove Atlas can also be provided for publication.