Virginia Lucas Poetry Scrapbook

Biography of Thomas Moore

Contrary to Virginia Lucas’s notes after her transcription of the poem “Farewell but Whenever You Welcome the Hour,” Thomas Moore was an Irish poet born in Dublin in the year 1779, rather than 1789. Thomas Moore was the only son and eldest child of John Moore and Anastasia Codd, a Catholic couple who were subject to oppressive penalties by the ruling Protestant English government. During his time at Trinity College, Dublin, Thomas Moore was a known political speaker in support of Irish patriotism and became close friends with Robert Emmet who was later executed for treason.

Moore’s publications were first supported by the patronage of Francis Rawdon Hastings, earl of Moira, who eventually offered Moore the position of Irish poet laureate. While Moore was tempted to accept the position, he eventually refused on the grounds of his Irish patriotism and the disapproval of his father.

In 1806, Francis Jeffrey publicly denounced one of Moore’s earliest collections, Epistles, Odes, and other Poems in the Edinburgh Review. In response to these remarks, Moore challenged Jeffrey to a duel but police arrested both men before the duel could take place. The event made its way into the papers where it was misrepresented and ridiculed. Byron repeated these accounts in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809) which infuriated Moore and led him to challenge Byron to a duel as well. However, Byron was out of the country and never learned of Moore’s anger. Interestingly, both challenges never resulted in violence and instead led to lasting friendships. Embarrassed by the dueling incident, Moore returned to Dublin where he partnered with William and James Power to write lyrics for characteristic Irish songs. The resulting work, Irish Melodies, was incredibly successful.

Around the same time as Irish Melodies (1808-34), Moore began writing satirical poems arguing for better treatment of Ireland including Corruption: an Epistle and Intolerance (1808). He continued to gain acclaim and popularity for his writing, which included political and satirical works, most notably Intercepted Letters, or, The Twopenny Post-Bag (1813) and The Fudge Family in Paris (1818), as well as popular romances such as Lalla Rookh (1817). However, around this time Moore experienced serious financial difficulties which resulted in him leaving the country in order to avoid arrest. During this period of exile, he spent three years in France and Italy where he produced very little writing. On his return to England, he continued to build his reputation as a political satirist with works such as Fables for the Holy Alliance (1823) and Odes upon Cash, Corn, Catholics, and other Matters (1828). He also began a career as a biographer, writing accounts of both Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Lord Byron.

Towards the end of his writing career, Moore’s work was predominantly political, establishing him as a leading Irish patriot. He spent the last years of his writing life composing a History of Ireland (1835-46) which focused on the cultural achievements and social hardships of the Irish people in relation to British rule. Moore died on February 25th, 1852 having outlived all four of his children. His wife, Bessy, whom he had been married to for over forty years, died thirteen years later in September 1865.  

Carnall, Geoffrey. "Moore, Thomas (1779–1852), poet." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. October 03, 2013.> Date of Access March 3, 2019.

"The Last Rose of Summer" by Thomas Moore
"Farewell but Whenever You Welcome the Hour" by Thomas Moore

This page references: