‘Improper Novel Costs Woman $50 – WOMAN’S DRESS DESCRIBED’ reads the headline of this newspaper article, cut from the New York Times on 22 February 1921. It reports on the prosecution of Margaret C Anderson and Jane Heap, publisher and editor, respectively, of the Little Review, for the July–August 1920 instalment of Ulysses by James Joyce. Several previous issues of the magazine, which serialised Ulysses from 1918 to 1921, had been confiscated. In September 1920 John S Sumner, Secretary for the New York Society of the Prevention of Vice, made a complaint about the ‘Nausicaa’ episode. The court considered the episode both ‘unintelligible’ and morally harmful, calling out in particular Joyce’s ‘too frank’ description of Gerty MacDowell holding up her dress. Because of the nature of the prosecution, the New York Times’ report had to censor its own description of the scene which depicts Leopold Bloom masturbating in public as he watches Gerty.
This collection of material belongs to the Harriet Shaw Weaver Papers, which Weaver bequeathed to the British Library in her will (executed in 1970). Weaver was a publisher, editor and Joyce’s patron. Containing a vast number of letters, cuttings and photographs, the Papers shed light on the lives and work of both Joyce and Weaver.
This volume contains other correspondence, mainly from Joyce, relating to Ulysses.