In Memoriam: Brenda Maddox

We at the James Joyce Quarterly were saddened to learn of Brenda Maddox’s passing last Bloomsday, June 16, 2019, at the age of 87.

Brenda Maddox was an American author and journalist who won wide critical acclaim for her biographies of figures ranging from Elizabeth Taylor to William Butler Yeats to Rosalind Franklin. In particular, her 1988 biography of Joyce’s wife, Nora Barnacle, earned the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Silver PEN Award, and the French Prix du Mailleur Livre Etranger. Written at a time when the women surrounding male authors were given little scholastic focus–noted Joyce biographer Richard Ellmann wrote Maddox a letter disapproving “book-length studies of people who are clearly not of great importance in themselves”– Maddox’s biography of Nora provided a fresh and invigorating perspective on a pivotal figure in Joyce’s life.

Maddox was also a staunch supporter of Joyce studies in London and a regular participant in the recurring Charles Peake Ulysses seminar at the Institute of English Studies, University of London. The Institute of English Studies was also the host for the XXV International James Joyce Symposium (themed “Anniversary Joyce”) in 2016, and it was the last Symposium that she attended. The Joycean community is indebted to her contributions to our field.

Maddox’s papers, including her research materials, notebooks, and audio interview recordings, are currently housed in University of Tulsa’s McFarlin Library Special Collections.