Davy Stephens

In Aeolus an office door creaks open and "Davy Stephens, minute in a large capecoat, a small felt hat crowning his ringlets, passed out with a roll of papers under his cape, a king's courier." A hallucinated version of this "ringletted" figure reappears in Circe, hawking newspapers and surrounded with "a bevy of barefoot newsboys" such as were seen repeatedly running in and out of the news offices in the earlier chapter. Stephens (early 1840s-1925) was a vendor of newspapers and periodicals at Kingstown Harbour, where passenger-carrying mailboats crossed the channel to Britain twice daily. Hailing travelers with witty, uninhibited blather well suited for selling papers, he made himself a well-known fixture of greater Dublin.

John Hunt 2020

A "ringletted" Davy Stephens, ca. 1904, carrying newspapers under his arm. Source: Vivien Igoe, Real People.

Davy Stephens in his "large capecoat" in July 1905, from the Lawrence Collection of photographs, reproduced in Pierce's James Joyce's Ireland, courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.

Davy Stephens greeting King Edward VII at Kingstown Harbor. Source: Cyril Pearl, Dublin in Bloomtime.

16 May 1896 photograph held in the National Library of Ireland, with writing on back identifying the "Town Hall, Dunlaoghaire" (at the bottom of Royal Marine Road) on the "first day of electrification," "William Martin Murphy" (standing with one foot on tram), "Clifton Robinson at controls," and "'Davy Stephens' (local character & newsvendor) on top deck." Source: catalogue.nli.ie.

Photograph from a glass-plate negative held in the National Library of Ireland, date unknown, showing Stephens peddling papers in Kingstown. Source: www.nli.ie.