John Simpson (the OED’s Chief Editor from 1993 until his retirement in 2013) had an OUPblog post yesterday (June 16th, or Bloomsday: “Joyce wanted to commemorate the day in 1904 when he first walked out in Dublin with his future wife, Nora Barnacle”) about the history of the celebration of the day and about Joyce as a source of OED citations:
The first Bloomsday was celebrated publicly in Ireland in 1954, its 50th anniversary, when writers Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien visited the Martello Tower at Sandycove, Davy Byrne’s pub, and Bloom’s “home” at 7 Eccles Street, reading parts of Ulysses and drinking generously along the way (pictured in the featured image). The Times Literary Supplement has little to say about Bloomsday until the late 1950s. This date profile is supported by a Google ngrams word profile.
The OED’s reception of Joyce follows a similar pattern. Ulysses was published six years before the completion of the First Edition of the dictionary in 1928. But although the OED was full of references to the literary heroes of the past, it was entirely silent about Joyce. It could have cited him: Dubliners, for example, was published in 1914.
Joyce was still absent from the first Supplement to the OED in 1933. But the situation changed with the second Supplement (1972-86). Here it was hard to avoid Joyce, who leapt onto the leader board of most-cited authors. The vast majority of his 1,709 quotations derived were provided by a single OED contributor, Roland Auty, a retired English master from Faversham, Kent, and author of Nesfield’s Errors in English Composition (Madras: 1961). OED Editor Bob Burchfield wanted to see modern writers better represented in the dictionary: ‘like a medieval scribe,’ he recalled, ‘[Auty] copied in his own handwriting many thousands of 6×4 inch slips on which he entered illustrative examples for any word or meaning that occurred in Joyce and was not already entered in the Dictionary.’
When the Second Edition of the OED was published in 1989, it contained 548 terms first attributed to Joyce. With the revision almost 40% complete, exactly one hundred of those usages have been replaced by other, earlier examples: eyeslit rockets back from Ulysses in 1922 to Noble’s Geodaesia Hibernica (1768); prurition plummets to Claude Lancelot’s Primitives of the Greek Tongue (1748); rib steak migrates to Charles Elmé Francatelli’s Modern Cook (1846). None of this reduces Joyce as a writer, but allows us to refine the areas in which his true creativity lies.