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.
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