Bantam Lyons

The man who asks to borrow Bloom's newspaper in Lotus Eaters, and who receives what he thinks is a horse racing tip from him, is either seen or mentioned in half a dozen later chapters. His role in the novel is simple and well-defined: to remind readers of the Gold Cup race. But the character himself displays some strange ambiguities. Ithaca calls him "Frederick M. (Bantam) Lyons," and Vivien Igoe has identified a real Frederick M. Lyons who was alive in 1904, but that man's social status seems hard to square with the fictional character. Another confusion arises from textual prehistory. Bantam Lyons is mentioned in "The Boarding House," one of the stories of Dubliners, and another character with the same last name appears in a second story, "Ivy Day in the Committee Room." Joyceans have traditionally taken that second Lyons to be Bantam, but, again, the characteristics of the two men seem very dissimilar. 

John Hunt 2022

Betting on the Favorite, engraving by W. L. Sheppard from sketch by W. B. Myers, published in the October 1870 Harper's Weekly. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Mr. Lyons (left) and Mr. Crofton entering the committee room in Robin Jacques' illustration of "Ivy Day." Source: James Joyce, Dubliners (Grafton Books, 1977).