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Brian Moore (novelist)

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Title: Brian Moore (novelist)  
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Subject: New Canadian Library, Black Robe (film), The Statement (film), List of winners and shortlisted authors of the Booker Prize for Fiction, Brian Moore
Collection: 1921 Births, 1999 Deaths, 20Th-Century Canadian Novelists, 20Th-Century Irish Novelists, Best Screenplay Genie and Canadian Screen Award Winners, Deaths from Pulmonary Fibrosis, Disease-Related Deaths in California, Expatriates from Northern Ireland in the United States, Genie Award Winners for Best Screenplay, Governor General's Award Winning Fiction Writers, Immigrants to Canada from Northern Ireland, Irish Male Novelists, James Tait Black Memorial Prize Recipients, Male Short Story Writers, Naturalized Citizens of Canada, Novelists from Northern Ireland, People Educated at St Malachy's College, People from Belfast, Screenwriters from Northern Ireland, Short Story Writers from Northern Ireland, Writers from Belfast
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Brian Moore (novelist)

Brian Moore
Born (1921-08-25)25 August 1921
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Died 11 January 1999(1999-01-11) (aged 77)
Malibu, California, United States
Occupation Novelist, screenwriter, journalist
Language English
Nationality Canadian[1]
Notable awards

James Tait Black Memorial Prize (1975)

Governor General's Award for English language fiction (1960 and 1975)

Jacqueline ("Jackie") Sirois (née Scully) (m. 1952–67)

Jean Denny (m. 1967–99)
  • Michael Moore

Brian Moore (first name ;[2] 25 August 1921 – 11 January 1999), who has been described as "one of the few genuine masters of the contemporary novel",[3] was a novelist and screenwriter from Northern Ireland[4][5][6] who emigrated to Canada and later lived in the United States. He was acclaimed for the descriptions in his novels of life in Northern Ireland after the Second World War, in particular his explorations of the inter-communal divisions of The Troubles. He was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1975 and the inaugural Sunday Express Book of the Year award in 1987, and he was shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times (in 1976, 1987 and 1990). Moore also wrote screenplays and several of his books were made into films.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Wartime service and move to North America 2
  • Novels and themes 3
  • Acclaim 4
  • Personal life 5
  • Death 6
  • Legacy 7
  • Prizes and honours 8
  • Bibliography 9
  • See also 10
  • References and footnotes 11
  • External links 12

Early life and education

Moore was born and grew up in Belfast with eight siblings[2] in a large Roman Catholic family. His grandfather, a severe, authoritarian solicitor, had been a Catholic convert.[2] His father, James Bernard Moore, was a prominent surgeon and the first Catholic to sit on the senate of Queen’s University[7] and his mother, Eileen McFadden Moore, a Donegal farmer's daughter,[2] was a nurse.[8][9] His uncle was the prominent Irish nationalist, Eoin MacNeill, founder of Conradh na Gaeilge (the Gaelic League) and Professor of Irish at University College Dublin.[10]

Moore was educated at St Malachy's College.[2][11] He left school in 1939, having failed his senior exams.

Wartime service and move to North America

Moore was a volunteer air raid warden during the bombing of Belfast by the Luftwaffe. He also served as a civilian with the British Army in North Africa, Italy and France. After the war ended he worked in Eastern Europe for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. He emigrated to Canada in 1948, worked as a reporter for the Montreal Gazette, and became a Canadian citizen. While eventually making his primary residence in California, Moore continued to live part of each year in Canada up to his death.[9]

Moore lived in Canada from 1948 to 1958,[12] moving to New York in 1959 to take up a Guggenheim Fellowship[2] and remaining there until his divorce in 1967.[2] He then moved to the west coast of the United States, settling in Malibu, California, with his new wife Jean.[2] He taught creative writing at UCLA.[13]

Novels and themes

Moore wrote his first novels in Canada.[12] His earliest novels were thrillers, published under his own name or using the pseudonyms Bernard Mara or Michael Bryan.[14] Moore's first novel outside the genre, Judith Hearne, remains among his most highly regarded. The book was rejected by ten American publishers before being accepted by a British publisher.[9] It was made into a film, with British actress Maggie Smith playing the lonely spinster who is the book/film's title character.[9]

Other novels by Moore were adapted for the screen, including Intent to Kill, The Luck of Ginger Coffey, Catholics, Black Robe, Cold Heaven, and The Statement. He co-wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain, and wrote The Blood of Others, based on the novel Le Sang des autres by Simone de Beauvoir.

Moore criticised his Belfast schooling through his novels The Feast of Lupercal and The Emperor of Ice-Cream.[15]

Some of his novels feature staunchly anti-doctrinaire and anti-clerical themes, and he in particular spoke strongly about the effect of the Church on life in Ireland. A recurring theme in his novels is the concept of the Catholic priesthood. On several occasions he explores the idea of a priest losing his faith. At the same time, several of his novels are deeply sympathetic and affirming portrayals of the struggles of faith and religious commitment, Black Robe most prominently.


Graham Greene said that Moore was his favourite living novelist,[16] though Moore began to regard the label as "a bit of an albatross".[17]

Personal life

Moore was married twice. His first marriage, in 1952, was to Jacqueline ("Jackie") Sirois (née Scully), a French Canadian[6] and fellow-journalist with whom he had a son Michael in 1953.[18] They divorced in October 1967 and Jackie died in January 1976.[19] Moore married his second wife, Jean Denny, in October 1967.[19]


Brian Moore died on 11 January 1999 at his home in Malibu, California, aged 77, from pulmonary fibrosis.[9] He had been working on a novel about the 19th-century French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud.[20] His last published work before his death was an essay entitled "Going Home".[10] It was a reflection inspired by a visit he made to the grave in Connemara of his family friend, the Irish nationalist Bulmer Hobson. The essay was commissioned by Granta and published in The New York Times on 7 February 1999.[10] Despite Moore's often conflicted attitude to Ireland and his Irishness, his concluding reflection in the piece was "The past is buried until, in Connemara, the sight of Bulmer Hobson's grave brings back those faces, those scenes, those sounds and smells which now live only in my memory. And in that moment I know that when I die I would like to come home at last to be buried here in this quiet place among the grazing cows."[10]


The Creative Writers Network in Northern Ireland launched in 1996 the Brian Moore Short Story Awards, which are now open to all authors of Irish descent. Previous judges have included Glenn Patterson, Lionel Shriver, Carlo Gebler and Maeve Binchy.[21]

Moore has been the subject of two biographies, Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist (1998) by Denis Sampson and Brian Moore: A Biography (2002) by Patricia Craig.[22] Brian Moore and the Meaning of the Past (2007) by Patrick Hicks provides a critical retrospective of Moore's works. Information about the publishing of Moore's novel, Judith Hearne, and the break-up of his marriage can be found in Diana Athill's memoir, Stet (2000).[23]

In 1975 Moore arranged for his literary materials, letters and documents to be deposited in the Special Collections Division of the University of Calgary Library, an inventory of which (The Brian Moore Papers: First Accession and Second Accession) was published by the University of Calgary Press in 1987.[24] Moore's archives, which include unfilmed screenplays, drafts of various novels, working notes, a 42-volume journal (1957–1998), and his correspondence [6], are now at The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, at the University of Texas at Austin.[25]

Prizes and honours


Non-fiction and essays


Short story collection

  • Two Stories (1978) Northridge, California: Santa Susana Press. Contains "Uncle T" and "Preliminary Pages for a Work of Revenge"

Short stories

  • "Sassenach", Northern Review 5 (October–November 1951)
  • "Fly Away Finger, Fly Away Thumb", London Mystery Magazine, 17, September 1953 [8]; reprinted in Great Irish Tales of Horror, ed. Peter Haining, Souvenir Press 1995
  • "A Vocation", Tamarack Review 1 (Autumn 1956): 18–22. Reprinted in Threshold 2 (Summer 1958): 21–25; reprinted in The Irish Genius, ed. Devin A. Garrity (1960). New York: New American Library, pp. 125–128; reprinted for the Verbal Arts Centre project, 1998
  • "Lion of the Afternoon", The Atlantic, November 1957; reprinted in A Book of Canadian Stories, ed. Desmond Pacey (1962) Toronto: Ryerson Press, pp. 283–293
  • "Next Thing was Kansas City", The Atlantic, February 1959
  • "Grieve for the Dear Departed", The Atlantic, August 1959; reprinted in Pick of Today's Short Stories, no. 12, ed. John Pudney (1960), London: Putnam, pp. 179–188
  • "Uncle T", Gentleman's Quarterly, November 1960; reprinted in Two Stories, see above
  • "Preliminary Pages for a Work of Revenge", Midstream 7 (Winter 1961); reprinted in The Dolmen: Miscellany of Irish Writing, eds. John Montague and Thomas Kinsella (1962), Dublin: Dolman, pp. 1–7; reprinted in Canadian Writings Today, ed. Mordecai Richler, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, pp. 135–145; reprinted in Two Stories, see above
  • "Hearts and Flowers", The Spectator, 24 November 1961
  • "Off the Track", Ten for Wednesday Night, ed. Robert Weaver. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd, 1961, pp. 159–167; reprinted in Modern Canadian Stories, eds. Giose Rimanelli and Robert Ruberto (1966), Toronto: Ryerson Press, pp. 239–246
  • "The Sight", Irish Ghost Stories, ed. Joseph Hone. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1977, pp. 100–119; reprinted in Black Water, ed. Alberto Manguel, Picador 1983; reprinted in The Oxford Book of Canadian Ghost Stories, ed. Alberto Manguel, Toronto: Oxford University Press 1990
  • "A Bed in America" (unpublished; later used in Hitchcock film Torn Curtain)
  • "A Matter of Faith" (unpublished)


  • The Closing Ritual (1979) – unperformed[14][25]
  • Catholics (1980), based on his own novel – ACT Theatre, World Premiere: Seattle May 1980
  • The Game (undated) – unperformed[29]


Other films based on Brian Moore's work

Films about Brian Moore

  • The Lonely Passion of Brian Moore (1986)[9][34] a documentary featuring Moore and looking at what inspired his work
  • The Man From God Knows Where (1993), BBC Bookmark profile


  • Fulford, Robert. "Robert Fulford Interviews Brian Moore". Tamarack Review 23 (1962), pp. 5–18
  • Dahlie, Hallvard. "Brian Moore: An Interview". Tamarack Review 46 (1968), pp. 7–29
  • Sale, Richard. "An Interview in London with Brian Moore". Studies in the Novel 1 (Spring 1969), pp. 67–80
  • Gallagher, Michael Paul. "Brian Moore Talks to Michael Paul Gallagher", Hibernia (10 October 1969), p. 18
  • Cameron, Donald. "Brian Moore". Conversations with Canadian Novelists, 2. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada (1973), pp. 64–85
  • Graham, John. "Brian Moore" in Garrett, George, ed., The Writer’s Voice: Conversations With Contemporary Writers. New York: William Morrow and Company (1973), pp. 51–74
  • Bray, Richard T., ed. "A Conversation with Brian Moore". Critic: A Catholic Review of Books and the Arts 35 (Fall 1976), pp. 42–48
  • De Santana, Hubert. "Interview with Brian Moore". Maclean's (11 July 1977), pp. 4–7
  • Aris, Stephen. "Moore’s Fistful of Dollars", Sunday Times (October 1977), pp. 37
  • Sharp, Rhoderick. "Brian Moore: an author in exile winning with the luck of the Irish", Glasgow Herald, 7 May 1983, p.7
  • Crowe, Marie. "Marie Crowe Talks to Belfast Writer Brian Moore", in Irish Press (21 June 1983), p. 9
  • Meyer, Bruce and O’Riordan, Brian. "Brian Moore: In Celebration of the Commonplace", in Their Words: Interviews With Fourteen Canadian Novelists. Toronto: House of Anansi Press (1984), pp. 169–83
  • Carty, Ciaran. "Ciaran Carty Talks to Brian Moore", Sunday Independent (2 June 1985), p. 14
  • Adair, Tom. "The Writer as Exile", in Linen Hall Review, 2:4 (1985), pp. 4–6
  • Foster, John Wilson. "Q & A with Brian Moore", in Irish Literary Supplement: A Review of Irish Books (Fall 1985), pp. 44–45
  • Haverty, Anne. "The Outsider on the Edge", in Sunday Tribune (3 November 1985)
  • O’Donoghue, Andy. "Dialogue", interview with Brian Moore on RTÉ Radio 1 (20 February 1986)
  • Battersby, Eileen. "No Faith, No Hope, But Clarity: Eileen Battersby in Belfast With the Novelist Brian Moore", Sunday Tribune, (27 April 1990), B1
  • Carlson, Julia., ed. "Brian Moore" in Banned in Ireland. Georgia UP/London: Routledge (1990)
  • Christie, Tom. "An Irishman In Malibu: Novelist Brian Moore Has Left Behind His Homeland And Dodged Celebrity In Favor Of An Independent-minded And Highly Successful Literary Life", in Los Angeles Times (1 March 1992)
  • Ford, Nigel. "An Interview With Brian Moore", on Bookshelf, BBC Radio 4 (5 March 1993)
  • O’Donoghue, Jo. "From the Abstract Sands: Interview with Brian Moore", in Books Ireland (November 1995), pp. 269–71
  • Battersby, Eileen. "Perennial Outsider", a full-page interview in The Irish Times (12 October 1995)
  • Rees, Jasper. "Novel way to Miss the Booker Prize", in The Independent [UK] (24 September 1997), ‘Eye’ pp. 3–4
  • Hicks, Patrick. "Brian Moore and Patrick Hicks", in Irish University Review Vol. 30, No. 2 (Autumn – Winter, 2000), pp. 315–320 (The last known interview with Brian Moore)

Books and articles about Brian Moore and his work

  • Athill, Diana. Stet: a memoir, London: Granta ISBN 1-86207-388-0, 2000
  • Craig, Patricia. Brian Moore: A Biography, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 978-0747560043, 2002
  • Cronin, John. "Ulster's Alarming Novels", Eire-Ireland IV (Winter 1969), p. 27–34
  • Dahlie, Hallvard. Brian Moore, Toronto: The Copp Clark Publishing Co., 1969
  • Dahlie, Hallvard. Brian Moore, Boston: G.K. Hall and Company, 1981
  • Flood, Jeanne. Brian Moore, Lewisburg, Penn.: Bucknell University Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1974
  • Foster, John Wilson. "Passage Through Limbo: Brian Moore's North American Novels", Critique XIII (Winter 1971), pp. 5–18
  • Foster, John Wilson. Forces and Themes in Ulster Fiction, Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1974, pp. 122–130; 151–185
  • Hicks, Patrick. "History and Masculinity in Brian Moore's "The Emperor of Ice-Cream", The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, Vol. 25, No. 1/2 (Jul. – Dec., 1999), pp. 400–413
  • Gearon, Liam. "No other life: Death and Catholicism in the works of Brian Moore", Journal of Beliefs and Values, Vol 19, No 1, pp. 33–46
  • Hicks, Patrick. "Brian Moore's The Feast of Lupercal and the Constriction of Masculinity", New Hibernia Review, Vol 5, No 3, pp. 101–113, Fómhar/Autumn 2001 [10]
  • Hicks, Patrick. "The Fourth Master: Reading Brian Moore Reading James Joyce". Ariel 38: 2–3. 
  • Hicks, Patrick. "Sleight-of-Hand: Writing, History and Magic in Brian Moore's The Magician's Wife" Commonwealth Essays and Studies ["Postcolonial Narratives" Issue] 27, 2 (Spring 2005), pp. 87–95.
  • Hicks, Patrick. Brian Moore and the Meaning of the Past, Edwin Mellen Press Ltd, ISBN 0773454039, ISBN 978-0773454033, 2007
  • McSweeney, Kerry. Four Contemporary Novelists. Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press; London: Scolar Press, 1983, pp. 55–99
  • O'Donoghue, Jo. Brian Moore: A Critical Study, Montreal and Kingston: McGill University Press, 1991
  • Prosky, Murray. "The Crisis of Identity in the Novels of Brian Moore", Eire-Ireland VI (Fall 1971), pp 106–118
  • Sampson, Denis. "'Home: A Moscow of the Mind': Notes on Brian Moore's Transition to North America" in Colby Quarterly, vol. 31, issue 1 (March 1995). pp. 46–54[35]
  • Sampson, Denis. Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist, Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1998
  • Schumacher, Antje. Brian Moore's Black Robe: Novel, Screenplay(s) and Film (European University Studies. Series 14: Anglo-Saxon Language and Literature. Vol. 494), Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. Language: English ISBN 3631603215 ISBN 978-3-631-60321-5, 2010
  • Sullivan, Robert. A Matter of Faith: The Fiction of Brian Moore, London and Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1996

See also

References and footnotes

  1. ^ Dahlie, Hallvard (1999). "Brian Moore, 1921–99". In Memoriam.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Lee, Hermione (14 February 1993). "BOOK REVIEW / Nomadic life of Brian: It's hard to keep up with Brian Moore, an Irishman with Canadian citizenship living in Malibu whose new novel is based on Haiti. But it's time his work was acclaimed".  
  3. ^  
  4. ^ "Brian Moore: Forever influenced by loss of faith".  
  5. ^ Cronin, John (13 January 1999). "Obituary: Shores of Exile".  
  6. ^ a b Walsh, John (14 January 1999). "Obituary: Brian Moore".  
  7. ^ "Brian Moore".  
  8. ^ Flood, Jeanne (1974). Brian Moore.  
  9. ^ a b c d e Smith, Denitia (12 January 1999). "Brian Moore, Prolific Novelist on Diverse Themes, Dies at 77".  
  10. ^ a b c d Moore, Brian (7 February 1999). "Going Home".  
  11. ^ Spencer, Clare (6 May 2011). "Why do some schools produce clusters of celebrities?".  
  12. ^ a b Lynch, Gerald (10 April 2007). "Brian Moore".  
  13. ^ "Brian Moore".  
  14. ^ a b Sampson, Denis (1998). Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist. Toronto:  
  15. ^ "Local Writing legends – Brian Moore: Growing Up". Get Writing NI.  
  16. ^  
  17. ^ The Irish Times, 13 January 1999
  18. ^ Byrne, James P; Coleman, Philip; King, Jason (2008). Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics and History, vol.1.  
  19. ^ a b Craig, Patricia (2002). Brian Moore: A Biography.  
  20. ^  
  21. ^ "Brian Moore Short Story Awards".  
  22. ^ "Patricia Craig".  
  23. ^ Athill, Diana (2000) Stet: a memoir, London: Granta ISBN 1-86207-388-0
  24. ^ Dahlie, Hallvard (25 January 1999). "Brian Moore, 1921–99". Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  25. ^ a b "Brian Moore: A Preliminary Inventory of His Papers".  
  26. ^  
  27. ^ McSweeney, Kerry (1983). Four Contemporary Novelists. Kingston and Montreal:   "The essential sameness of the Belfast of the post-1970 Troubles and the city he lived in from his birth in 1921 until his early twenties is the subject of Moore's finest piece of non-fictional prose."
  28. ^ "The Mangan inheritance". Catalogue.  
  29. ^ a b c "Stage and Screen: A Brian Moore Filmography". JSTOR: Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review 87 (346): 142. Summer 1998.  
  30. ^ a b c "Famous works". Brian Moore Biography (1921–1999). Film Reference. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  31. ^ "Our Collection: The Sight".  
  32. ^ Sauter, van Gordon (10 April 1988). "Just Color Moore a Novelist".  
  33. ^ "Uncle T".  
  34. ^ "The Lonely Passion of Brian Moore".  
  35. ^ Sampson, Denis (March 1995). Home: A Moscow of the Mind': Notes on Brian Moore's Transition to North America"'". Colby Quarterly 31 (1): 46–54. 

External links

  • Brian Moore at the Internet Movie Database
  • Obituary from the BBC
  • "Moore, Brian", ProQuest Learning: Literature, 2006
  • eNotes critical essay on Brian Moore, vol 90
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