One of the latest acquisitions in the Department of Special Collections is the recently published edition of James Joyce’s The Cats of Copenhagen.
Published amidst controversy about the public domain, and whether organizations have any control over unpublished materials they physically own, it is the first new Joyce to see print in decades. Moreover, it will likely form a test bed for some new copyright issues, since under current European Union law, it appears that unpublished manuscripts in the public domain, upon publication in the EU, receive a new life under copyright to the publisher for 25 years in EU countries.
The Cats was originally written on 5 September 1936 as a letter from Joyce to his grandson, Stephen, in which he told a children’s story. This was a related piece to his more well known The Cat and the Devil. This letter was later placed in the collections of the Zurich James Joyce Foundation by Hans E. Jahnke, son of Giorgio Joyce’s second wife, Asta.
This printing is a work of art, done in letterpress and hand bound by Michael Caine as a limited edition of 200 copies. We have no. 6 of the 170 bound copies on Fedrigoni Freelife vellum and no. F of 26 of the loose Imperial quartos in the last of the Crisbrook Waterleaf of the Barcham Green handmade papermakers. The wrappers are in a fantasia design by Christopher Rowlatt. There were four copies that were not made for sale. Also included are a series of illustrations by Casey Sorrow.
These books are a magnificent addition to the University’s Joyce collections, and an interesting piece of publication history.