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James Joyce’s Passport Goes On Sale

James Joyce, the author of Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake, was one of Ireland’s most famous writers. He died in 1941, but someone had enough foresight to hold on to one of his old passports, which will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s later this month. I’m sure whoever kept the passport is quite glad they did: according to the Irish Times, the auction is expected to bring in anywhere from €55,600 to €77,900!

A lot has changed since World War I, when Joyce used this passport to shuffle his family between various European countries while he worked on Ulysses, widely considered his masterpiece. For one thing, most countries no longer allow an entire family to travel on a single passport. These days, even newborns need their own documents.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the way visa stamps on a passport can be used to tell a story. In Joyce’s case, it’s the story of a writer struggling to make his fortune, dodging war and various medical ailments all the while. This story begins in Zürich, Switzerland, where the Joyce family arrived in 1915 after fleeing from Trieste, Italy. In Zürich, he befriended the poet Ezra Pound and acquired a patroness, the editor and activist Harriet Shaw Weaver. Her largesse allowed him to focus on writing Ulysses.

After the war ended, he returned to Trieste, but soon left again, this time for Paris, where he would spend the next two decades. The passport also shows various trips to Switzerland for eye surgeries to treat the glaucoma that bedeviled the writer for decades.

It’s highly unlikely that your passport (or mine for that matter) will ever fetch tens of thousands of pounds at an auction. However, when you apply for a passport renewal, it’s still worth requesting to have your old passport sent back, so that you’ll always have a record of your own personal journeys.

To make sure you have as many stamps in your passport as possible, it is important that you apply for a passport renewal as far in advance of your trip as you can. It takes about 6 weeks for a passport application to be processed. Even if you pay an extra $60 fee to the government for expedited processing, you should still allow at least three weeks.

For last-minute passport renewal applications, RushMyPassport is an easy and convenient alternative. We hand-deliver your passport application to the Department of State, for processing in as little as 24 hours. With our service, there’s no need to travel to a passport agency, take time off work, make an appointment or wait in line.

Let us help you get your passport renewal quickly and easily today!

The History of the Passport Application

It’s hard to believe, but there was a time when you didn’t have to fill out a passport application to travel internationally. In fact, passports weren’t required for international travel until the first World War, though governments had been issuing passports or “documents of safe conduct” for centuries prior.

After World War I, the League of Nations decided that passport requirements should be maintained for international travel in peacetime as well. Although today we think of passports as essential, when passport applications became a requirement, many people were not happy. Over at the Oxford University Press blog, Craig Robertson, author of The Passport in America: The History of A Document, explains:

Middle-class and the more well-to-do resisted the implementation of passport requirements creating what was labeled the “passport nuisance” in the 1920s. With little experience of the need to prove identity through documents the passport became the site where people objected to perceived affront of a government not trusting its citizens. Identity documents were for people who could not be trusted such as criminals and the insane. They were not for people who simply wanted to travel.

Other interesting facts about the history of the passport:

  • Before passports became mandatory, immigration officers decided who let into the country based on what amounts to gut instinct. Can you imagine how much trouble that must have caused for American citizens who didn’t fit the officials’ mental image of an American?
  • Early passports didn’t necessarily have photographs-instead, a written description of the bearer’s physical characteristics was usually included.
  • According to the Guardian, the Pope always carries Vatican Passport Number One.

These days, if you want to leave the US, you need to fill out a passport application. See How to Apply for a New Passport for more details. Make sure to allow sufficient time for processing-it can take 6 weeks or even longer if you apply for regular processing, and around 3 weeks if you apply for the government’s expedited processing.

If you need your passport more quickly, RushMyPassport can deliver your paperwork directly to the Department of State for processing times as low as 24 hours.

Let us help you expedite your passport application today!