Dubliners by James Joyce - book cover

James Joyce's Dubliners text guide

Dubliners is a collection of fifteen short stories that depict the everyday lives of the inhabitants of early 1900s Dublin, Ireland. The book was James Joyce’s first prose publication, which sowed the seeds of experimentalism that were developed in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Ulysses (1922), and Finnegans Wake (1939). 

Although he was not living in Dublin when he wrote this collection, Joyce depicts his city of birth faithfully and in great detail. Rather than presenting his readers with a glossy version of the Irish city, Joyce shows us Dublin as it really was – warts and all. In a letter to his publisher, Joyce stated that Dubliners was written to enable the people of Ireland to have a ‘good look at themselves’ in a ‘nicely polished looking-glass’.

Each story focuses on different characters, but several themes recur throughout the book: 

  • Religion
  • Politics
  • The backwardness of Ireland
  • The desire for escape
  • The passage from childhood to adulthood. 

The collection starts and ends with death - the passing of an aging priest and the loss of a young lover.

James Joyce

James Augustine Joyce, the eldest surviving son of John Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane ('May') Joyce, was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 2 February 1882. Read more ...

James JoyceContext of Dubliners

When studying Dubliners, it is very important to have a good understanding of the social, political, as well as religious and philosophical context that forms the background story into which Dubliners was written. Read more ...

Dive in to the Dubliners text guide

Synopses and commentary - Detailed synopsis and commentary on every story in Dubliners.


The Dubliners Timeline - Helpfully puts history, literary events and James Joyce's life side by side so you can make sense of events.

Themes in Dubliners  - Research themes and significant ideas that feature in Dubliners.

Are you a teacher?

We hope you will find this resource useful in the classroom.

Coming soon, downloadable Dubliners worksheets for you!

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