31.07.09 Catherine Neilan in The Bookseller
Classics publisher Wordsworth Editions has signed a deal with Stephen James Joyce, grandson and executor of the Irish author’s estate, to publish Ulysses a full two years before it enters the public domain. Helen Trayler, Wordsworth m.d., said: "This title I feel is my greatest achievement for Wordsworth, and I am really quite proud of myself."
The 1932 edition of the book will be available for £1.99, with notes and an introduction by Professor Cedric Watts, from 4th January 2010.
Trayler wrote to the James Joyce Estate to ask if there was "any possibility we could come to some arrangement" before the book goes public in 2012. Joyce, who is notoriously protective of his grandfather’s work, responded by asking Trayler to "give him the right reasons" for Wordsworth to be given access.
Among other reasons, Trayler said: "I told him I have always wanted to do Ulysses but felt if I could do it before it became public domain, I would capture the market with my edition." Joyce agreed to sign the deal for an undisclosed fee, and under the stipulation that the publisher use his chosen edition.
The publisher is using a painting inspired by the novel, by Irish artist Jonathan Barry, for the book’s cover image.
Wordsworth already publishes Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners, having first released the titles when copyright extended to only 50 years after the death of an author. This rule was extended to 70 years in 1988, effectively cutting off the publisher from access to the rest of Joyce’s oeuvre until 2012.
There are at least 18 editions of Ulysses, although several of them—including the 1932 version—are out of print in the UK.