Bloomsday is an annual ramble where participants read through various parts of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Bloomsday is named for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of the Irish author James Joyce’s seminal work, Ulysses, which is set entirely on June 16, 1904. Lots of cities around the world have been holding some sort of Bloomsday celebration for decades. The Worcester version involves readings in several locations approximating the sites visited by the characters of the novel in their own ramble through Dublin, June 16, 1904.
Who, Why, Where and When?
The day features a changing cast of characters – much like Ulysses. Everyone is welcome to read or listen. Some participants drop in for one or two sessions and those with more stamina (and free time) will make a day & night of it. Although lectures and performances are incorporated into the Worcester programming leading up to June 16, Bloomsday itself is a celebration of participatory readings – and that’s half the fun!
WCPA celebrates the spoken word, the written word, and the literary history of Worcester – or makes history by starting a new tradition like the Bloomsday Worcester Ramble. Sometimes, one of our members has a passion for a particular author or literary event like Bloomday and the entire community is welcome to join in. We’ve had a lot of fun doing this over the years. If anyone has comments about past Worcester Bloomsday celebrations, we’d be happy to post them. Just email us!
Where & When?
We try to add new sites each year while revisiting perennial favorites like Ben Franklin’s. Our outdoor sites don’t always have seating, so you might want to bring along a chair. There are no admission fees for these sites but you have to pay for your own meals. (Except the tea & scones – those are on Don Reid! Buy a book instead.) The episodes we plan to read at each site are listed. Always check back on June 15 for last minute schedule updates!
Great links for Joyce, Ulysses and Bloomsday!
The Rosenbach Museum & Library provides a concise summary of Ulysses, episode by episode – a great place to begin for newbies!
is maintained by Aida Yared. Using historic photos, newspapers, advertising, postcards and an amazing amount of research, 1904 Dublin as Joyce experienced it
is brought to life.
Notes on Ulysses
This site, created by Michael Groden, University of Western Ontario, Canada, explains plot and characters chapter by chapter, adding interesting Homeric parallels and other commentary.
James Joyce Center
Everything Joyce and everything Bloomsday.
Wondering what they have planned for Bloomsday in Buenos Aires, Ottawa, Aukland and Vilnius? Planning a visit to Dublin? This is the site for you!
Download Ulysses to your e-reader.
National Library of Ireland
Newly digitized and available to the public, Joyce papers including notebooks, proof pages and corresponance.
The Origins of Bloomsday
Learn about why June 16th will forever
be associated with Ulysses
Bloomsday Worcester FAQs
How long have you been doing this? The Worcester Ramble started up in 1997 as a project of several WCPA board members. Trevor Code is the father of the Ramble and Angela Dorenkemp bought the Irish flag we still use. Quite a few of the original Ramblers are still active planners and participants.
Who plans the Worcester Ramble? WCPA sponsors the event. Some time in January, a committe is formed to propose the itinerary for June 16. We think about where we’ve been, where we’d like to go next and spend a lot of time thinking about what hasn’t worked in the past and why. (Bars sound good in theory but they can be very noisy and dark.) Once we have a workable itinerary, we match the readings to the location. And before we advertise the locations or post them to the website, we visit each site. We also plan other activities, which vary from year to year, like films and lectures. Then we update the website, design and print flyers, notify the press and hope for good weather.
Can I participate if I haven’t read the book? Absolutely! Every year, people say they will read the whole book before the next Bloomsday….but they never get around to it. No problem. Enjoy the celebration of language – there won’t be a test.
“Ulysses Page Finder” – What’s that? Joyce didn’t include chapter numbers or titles for the different sections of Ulysses. What we have are “episodes” which more or less parallel The Odyssey. Also, there are many editions of Ulysses in print. For example, Episode 4: Calypso starts on page 81 in some editions, page 54 in others. You can print the page finder and check it against your own edition. And once you’ve figured out the page numbers for your edition, please share them with us and your information will be added.
Do I need to own a copy Ulysses to participate? No, you don’t need a copy – lots of folks will share their own copies with you so you can follow along or join in the reading. And there’s always the public library! During the past few years, the complete text of Ulysses has been digitized and is available as a free download from Project Gutenberg and other sites. You’ll notice in the photos an increasing number of participants using e-readers of various kinds.
Does it cost anything? Do I need to be a WCPA member? No and no. Everyone is invited to participate and the places we visit do not have admission fees. We would love to have you join the WCPA or make a donation to show your support for the organization but it isn’t a requirement. Just show up. No cost, no registration, no strings. You will have to buy your own food if you participate during the mealtime readings.
I have to work that day – can I just come during lunch or after work? Yes, please stop by one of the sites during the day, even if it’s just for an hour or so. It’s very informal. We try to keep to the schedule, so you can generally find us more or less where we say we’re going to be.