George Moore Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111201581-Moore.jpg George Moore Published by Salem Press, Inc.

The long and chameleonic career of George Moore is unified only by a constant dedication to the aesthetics of literature, to the perfection of his style. Born at Moore Hall, in County Mayo, on February 24, 1852, the eldest son of a wealthy Irish landowner, horse breeder, and member of Parliament dedicated to the nationalist cause, Moore led a rowdy boyhood in West Ireland before his family moved to London in 1869. There Moore showed his first interest in literature and art.

In 1873, on a small inherited income, Moore went to Paris (whereÉdouard Manet painted a famous portrait of him) to continue his studies in art. Discovering that his bent was toward the literary rather than the plastic arts, he wrote two books of Baudelairian verse, Flowers of Passion and Pagan Poems, before financial reverses forced his return to slum quarters in London. There he switched to prose and wrote a series of eight realistic novels beginning with A Modern Lover, an unusually frank (for the time) story of a painter’s sexual life in London and Paris, and A Mummer’s Wife, a portrayal of a shopkeeper’s wife who elopes with the manager of a traveling troupe of actors. In 1894 this phase of his career culminated in a major work, Esther Waters, the carefully disciplined, objective story of a young servant girl’s seduction and struggle to rear her son to manhood.

Celibates, Evelyn Innes, and Sister Teresa make up an intermediate period of fiction concerning neurotic heroes, Wagnerites, and religious...

(The entire section is 648 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

George Augustus Moore was born to a wealthy family at Moore Hall, the family estate in County Mayo, in the west of Ireland on February 24, 1852. The family was originally Protestant but through marriage had become Roman Catholic. He had a spotty education, due to health problems, spending some time at Oscott, a Catholic boarding school in England. When he was seventeen, he joined the family in London, and his formal education ceased. In 1871, he went to Paris to study painting and began his close association with the French painters and writers. By 1875, he gave up painting as a possible career but not his interest as a critic of contemporary French painters. He was an acquaintance of Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas, and the French naturalistic writer Émile Zola, who was a major influence on him. In 1880, he returned to London and began to write for a living. His first novel, A Modern Lover, appeared in 1883. Always concerned with the problems of style and content in fiction, he was determined to follow the French naturalistic writers and to bring their simplicity and intellectual honesty to British fiction. He also became a successful art critic, and social man-about-town in London. Lively and outgoing, he was an outrageous self-promoter, often extolling his skills in his various texts. He became more and more interested in Irish letters and politics in the 1890’s and became a director of the Irish Literary Theatre, returning to live in Ireland in 1901. He returned to London in 1911 and lived there until his death, continuing his interest in Ireland and writing about Irish life in several genres. He kept up his sometimes abrasive relationships with other artists throughout these years, quarreling with William Butler Yeats in 1902, withÆ (George Russell) in 1918, and later with Frank Harris. He died in London in 1933, and his ashes were deposited on Castle Island within sight of Moore Hall in Ireland.