Thomas Moore Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Thomas Moore was born on May 28, 1779, the son of a prosperous Dublin merchant. After study in grammar school, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1794, one of the first Roman Catholic students to be admitted to that institution. In the same year, two poems by Moore appeared in the periodical Anthologia Hibernica. During his college years Moore made a translation of Anacreon in verse which he took with him to London in 1799, when he entered the Middle Temple to study law. Odes of Anacreon was published in 1800, with an accepted dedication to the Prince of Wales. In 1803 Moore set out for Bermuda as a government appointee, but he decided en route to tour the United States and Canada and then return to England, leaving his post in charge of a deputy. Epistles, Odes, and Other Poems, published in 1806, contains references to his travels. In 1807 he began to publish a series of volumes titled Irish Melodies, with music by Sir John Stevenson. These volumes, highly popular, provided Moore with about five hundred pounds a year.

During the next few years, at odds with the regent, Moore wrote a series of satires which were collected in Intercepted Letters: Or, The Two-Penny Post Bag in 1813. In 1811 Moore married Bessie Dyke, a young actress, by whom he had several children, all of whom were a disappointment to their father and failed to outlive him. Real fame as a writer came to Moore with Lalla Rookh, a long narrative poem with an Asian flavor. Other works followed, but none was so popular or so well remembered. Moore wrote a biography of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the famous eighteenth century playwright. A novel published in 1827, The Epicurean, was not very successful. Moore’s later years, made comfortable by a government pension, were spent at Slopeton Cottage, in Wiltshire. For many nonliterary people, Moore remains the author of the ever-popular, romantic song “Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms” and a collection of patriotic Irish airs. He also edited an edition of George Gordon, Lord Byron’s works titled Letters and Journals of Lord Byron. He died in Wiltshire, England, on February 25, 1852.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Deane, Seamus. Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing. New York: W. W. Norton, 1991. Collects annotated selections from Moore’s writings. In his valuable introduction, Deane argues that Irish Melodies made Gaelic tradition acceptable to the dominant taste of the reading public in England.

DeFord, Miriam A. Thomas Moore. New York: Twayne, 1967. A cautious general introduction to his life and work.

Jones, Howard Mumford. The Harp That Once: A Chronicle of the Life of Thomas Moore. New York: H. Holt, 1937. Despite its date, this is still the authoritative biography, seeing Moore as the embodiment of Romanticism.

Tessier, Theresa. The Bard of Erin: A Study of Thomas Moore’s “Irish Melodies,” 1808-1834. Salzburg, Austria: Institute for English and American Studies, University of Salzburg, 1981. The most comprehensive and detailed study of Moore’s composite art—his fusion of poetry and music.

Vail, Jeffrey W. The Literary Relationship of Lord Byron and Thomas Moore. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001. Contradicts the popular perception that Percy Bysshe Shelley was the poet who exerted the most influence upon Lord Byron’s work.