Happy Birthday William York Tindall

According to The Writer’s Almanac, today is the birthday of literary critic and James Joyce scholar William York Tindall, born in Williamstown, Vermont (1903). He was a literature student when he discovered James Joyce’s novel Ulysses (1922) while traveling in Paris. He became obsessed with Joyce, and read all of his works.

When he returned to the U.S., Tindall started teaching a course in modern literature at New York University, and he was one of the first professors in the United States to assign Ulysses to his students. The book was still banned in the U.S. at the time, so his students had to read a bootlegged copy that was chained to a desk in the library.

He may be interested to see the current exhibit in the Main Library, “Making No Compromise with the Public Taste,” which centers around the obscenity trials of Ulysses and Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. The title of the exhibit comes from a tagline used by Margaret Anderson on her literary magazine The Little Review. Ulysses was serialized in The Little Review until difficulties with obscenity distribution issues forced it to cease publishing.

Tindall later taught English at Columbia University in New York City where his papers are now archived. He died in 1981.

Find more of William York Tindall’s work on James Joyce.