Born to a middle-class family in Belfast in 1921, Brian Moore left Ireland to work for the Allies in World War II. He was posted in Algiers, Naples and France and spent time in postwar Poland. He then moved to Canada, settling in Montreal for over a decade, and it was there he became a novelist. His first literary novel, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, won him critical acclaim, and he went on to write over twenty novels. He moved to New York City in 1960 and then to California in 1965 to work with Alfred Hitchcock. He remained in California for the rest of his life, although he regularly spent extended periods in Canada, in Nova Scotia, in the West of Ireland and in France. An international novelist, he set novels in all of these places, as well as in fantastic and historical settings. He died in 1999. Over the years, Moore wrote in a number of genres and showed a remarkable ability to “disappear” into his characters and their locations; hence the phrase he used about himself, “the chameleon novelist”. Moore twice won the Governor General’s Award in Canada, and was short-listed for the Booker Prize three times. This biography draws on interviews with Moore himself, as well as with friends, family, and colleagues, and uses diverse sources such as archival notes, diaries, drafts, and letters to arrive at a portrait of the creator of so many and such diverse fictions.
Praise for Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist
“Sampson writes superbly about Moore’s strange transformations . . . carefully judged and definitive biography.” Colm Tóibín, London Review of Books 10 August 2000, reprinted in New Ways to Kill Your Mother (2012).
“Sampson has done an immense amount of research both on the secondary literature and in the archives, supplemented by personal interviews with the author. Other future biographers and critics will find this work indispensable. Of particular value is his quoting of Moore’s writing notes as he worked towards the structure of a novel’s narrative.” Brian McIlroy, Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 19: 1, 1999.
“Denis Sampson is an exemplary literary biographer, clearly separating the life from the work, but also highlighting the ways in which they are imaginatively linked. This is a fine tribute to Moore’s work.” Alannah Hopkin, Magill Magazine (Dublin), November 1998.
“Particular strengths of this biography are the quality of Sampson’s research and the consummate skills he reveals in relating the man to the life and vice versa. This is a clearly written and compulsively readable biography in which Sampson succeeds in bringing into sharp focus those important events and concerns from Moore’s life which inform this great writer’s art.” Eamonn Wall, Irish Literary Supplement, Spring 2000.
“Sampson establishes a wholly plausible, multi-faceted sense of the writer at large. He is scrupulously accurate; more importantly, he has fathomed his subject’s life. Moore is incarnate in his novels, but with Sampson by one’s elbow, reading that current of dark, swirling dreams becomes at once a questing adventure and an enlightenment.” Tom Adair, The Irish Times. 3 December 1998.
Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist was published by Doubleday Canada, Toronto, 1998, and issued in paperback in 1999. It was also published in Dublin by Marino Press, 1998.