Brian Moore (novelist) : biography
Brian Moore (first name ; 25 August 1921 – 11 January 1999) 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.
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
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.
Moore was born and grew up in Belfast. 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, was a nurse. He grew up with eight siblings in a large Roman Catholic family, but reportedly rejected that faith early in life. 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.
Moore was educated at St Malachy’s College. He left school in 1939, having failed his senior exams. He later criticised his schooling through his novels The Feast of Lupercal and The Emperor of Ice-Cream.
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. He taught creative writing at UCLA.
Moore lived in Canada from 1948 to 1958, and wrote his first novels there. His earliest novels were thrillers, published under his own name or using the pseudonyms Bernard Mara or Michael Bryan.Sampson, Denis. Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1998 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.