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Joyce love letter fetches £240,800

London, July 9 (Reuters): A steamy love letter from Irish author James Joyce to his future wife Nora Barnacle during a one-month separation in 1909 yesterday sold for £240,800 ($446,200) — four times its top pre-sale estimate.

The letter, which includes terms of endearment such as “my darling little blackguard” and “my strange-eyed whore” was only recently discovered and has been hailed by Joyce scholars as the missing link of the pair’s correspondence during the period.

It was found by chance hidden between the pages of an old book.

Auction house Sotheby’s said the buyer wished to remain anonymous. The correspondence was initiated by Barnacle who remained in Austria while Joyce returned to Dublin in December of that year to pursue a business scheme to set up a cinema in the city.

But Joyce took up the correspondence with passion, signing the letter dated December 1, 1909, “heaven forgive my madness, Jim”. He wrote again the next day referring to the “extraordinary letter I wrote you last night.”

The series of letters has been closely studied by scholars who knew of the December 1 letter but believed it had been destroyed.

Joyce scholars have described the series of letters as the most important and revealing of the workings of the mind of the author of Ulysses — a book viewed by many as the most important novel in English literature.

The couple’s first date on June 16, 1904, was the inspiration for the setting of Ulysses, which concerns the everyday events in the city on that day.

The couple, who ran away from Dublin shortly after meeting and married in 1931, 10 years before Joyce died, never again repeated the intensity and depth of the correspondence of December 1909.

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