Tripti Joshi (Editor)

Brian Moore (novelist)

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Language  English
Children  Michael Moore
Role  Novelist
Name  Brian Moore
Nationality  Canadian

Brian Moore (novelist) The Second Death of Brian Moore Patrick Hicks
Born  25 August 1921 Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK (1921-08-25)
Occupation  Novelist, screenwriter, journalist
Notable awards  James Tait Black Memorial Prize (1975) Governor General's Award for English language fiction (1960 and 1975)
Died  January 11, 1999, Malibu, California, United States
Movies  Black Robe, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
Spouse  Jean Denney (m. 1967–1999), Jacqueline Scully (m. 1952–1967)
Books  Lies of Silence, Judith Hearne, Black Robe, The Statement, Catholics
Similar People  Bruce Beresford, Lothaire Bluteau, Robert Lantos, Peter James, August Schellenberg

Brian Moore (first name ; 25 August 1921 – 11 January 1999), who has been described as "one of the few genuine masters of the contemporary novel", was a novelist and screenwriter from Northern Ireland 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.


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Early life and education

Moore was born and grew up in Belfast with eight siblings in a large Roman Catholic family. His grandfather, a severe, authoritarian solicitor, had been a Catholic convert. His father, James Bernard Moore, was a prominent surgeon and the first Catholic to sit on the senate of Queen’s University and his mother, Eileen McFadden Moore, a Donegal farmer's daughter, was a nurse. 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.

Moore was educated at St Malachy's College. 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.

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

Novels and themes

Moore wrote his first novels in Canada. His earliest novels were thrillers, published under his own name or using the pseudonyms Bernard Mara or Michael Bryan. 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. It was made into a film, with British actress Maggie Smith playing the lonely spinster who is the book/film's title character.

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 screenplay for 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.

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, though Moore began to regard the label as "a bit of an albatross".

Personal life

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


Brian Moore died on 11 January 1999 at his home in Malibu, California, aged 77, from pulmonary fibrosis. He had been working on a novel about the 19th-century French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud. His last published work before his death was an essay entitled "Going Home". 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. 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."


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 Gébler and Maeve Binchy.

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. 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).

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. Moore's archives, which include unfilmed screenplays, drafts of various novels, working notes, a 42-volume journal (1957–1998), and his correspondence [1], are now at The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, at the University of Texas at Austin.

Prizes and honours

  • 1955 Beta Sigma Phi award (best first novel by a Canadian author for Judith Hearne)
  • 1955 Authors' Club First Novel Award (for Judith Hearne, chosen by C. S. Forester)
  • 1960 Governor General's Award for Fiction (for The Luck of Ginger Coffey)
  • 1975 James Tait Black Memorial Prize For Fiction (for The Great Victorian Collection)
  • 1975 Governor General's Award for Fiction (for The Great Victorian Collection)
  • 1976 Nominee, Booker Prize (for The Doctor's Wife)
  • 1987 Nominee, Booker Prize (for The Colour of Blood)
  • 1987 Sunday Express Book of the Year (for The Colour of Blood)
  • 1990 Nominee, Booker Prize (for Lies of Silence)
  • 1994 Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Los Angeles Times for his novels
  • References

    Brian Moore (novelist) Wikipedia