Fans of James Joyce may be surprised to hear that a real-life item mentioned in the Irish author’s Ulysses is up for auction on November 4. How does a book character’s accessory become a tangible item? Well, the character of John O’Connell was a live individual who was known for carrying a pocket watch, just as he does in the story.
John O’Connell, the superintendent of Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, was a well-dressed man who was known for carrying the famed pocket watch. According to his family, O’Connell was a “great local wit” whose stories were widespread throughout Dublin. His real-life occupations as a cemetery overseer and storyteller inspired Joyce to include O’Connell as the superintendent of Prospect Cemetery in the “Hades” and “Circe” portions of Ulysses.
While many fans would love to own such a piece of literary history, the pocket watch will cost them more than some pocket change. The 18-karat gold watch is expected to bring in up to £80,000. When the watch was last up for auction in 2011, it brought in about £60,000 even though it was only listed for £8,000.
It will be exciting to see how this watch does during the November 4 auction. We can only hope that it lands in the hands of someone or someplace that celebrates James Joyce.
If you enjoy literary history, click here to read about where to find some of the oldest manuscripts and first editions around the world.
FEATURED IMAGE VIA LA TIMES