Brian Moore’s novels have been praised for their varied settings, stylistic economy, precise realism, careful blending of ironic wit and genuine sympathy, and, most broadly, for their consistently professional quality of composition. The son of James Bernard Moore and Eileen McFadden Moore, Brian Moore was educated in Belfast schools, attending St. Malachi’s College in Belfast until 1940. After serving in an Air Raid Precautions Unit in Belfast from 1940 to 1942, he became a civilian employee of the British Ministry of War Transport and was stationed, in turn, in Algeria, Italy, and France during World War II. After the war, he first served as Port Officer in Warsaw under the United Nations Refugee Relief Agency and then as a freelance reporter in Scandinavia.
In 1948, Moore immigrated to Canada, establishing residence in Montreal and eventually becoming a Canadian citizen. From 1948 to 1952, he was employed initially as a proofreader and ultimately as a reporter for the Montreal Gazette. In 1951, he married Jacqueline Sirois and also published his first “serious” story, “Sassenach,” in the Northern Review. Still, for almost a decade, Moore supported his interest in writing serious fiction by publishing pulp fiction under the pseudonym Michael Bryan.
In 1955, Moore published his first novel under his own name, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne. Acclaimed at the time of its publication and still considered one of Moore’s superior novels, it concerns the crisis that occurs in a Belfast spinster’s life when her alcoholism exaggerates her romantic delusions and she must seek emotional refuge in a repressive religiosity.
After moving to New York in 1959 (he later moved to California but continued to maintain Canadian citizenship), Moore received a Guggenheim Fellowship. A year later, he published The Luck of Ginger Coffey, the story of a man who emigrates with his family from Northern Ireland to Canada and must balance his delusions of making a grand success against the demands of his family. For this novel, Moore won the Governor General’s Literary Award of Canada for fiction. In 1966, Moore married Jean Denny, his second wife.
In I Am Mary Dunne and Fergus,...
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