Anthony Domestico at berfrois:
The 1932 Obelisk Press edition of Pomes Penyeach came at a crucial juncture in James Joyce’s writing career and in the life and mental health of his daughter, Lucia. At the time, Joyce was internationally renowned for Ulysses and laboring over his Work in Progress; meanwhile, Lucia was descending into the nightmare of schizophrenia, becoming increasingly delusional and erratic in behavior. Joyce had already published Pomes Penyeach, a series of 13 poems written between 1904 and 1924, with Shakespeare and Co. in 1927. In 1931, a publisher named Caresse Crosby, having seen and admired Lucia Joyce’s designs for a musical setting of Joyce’s poems, suggested that Joyce put out a limited edition volume of Pomes Penyeach containing illuminations of the initial letters for each poem. Joyce, eager to believe that some productive work would soothe Lucia’s inner demons and lead her back onto the road to normalcy, jumped at the chance.
Joyce approached Jack Kahane, a founder of Obelisk Press who had previously produced a limited edition of Joyce’s Haveth Childers Everywhere, and the two agreed to terms. With Desmond Harmsworth, Obelisk Press agreed to print a version of Pomes Penyeach that would use Lucia’s drawings and stress the handcrafted, artisanal nature of the book.