Coincidentally enough, the other day I was enjoying my lunch on the Brooklyn Heights promenade when an elderly gentleman approached me and asked if I had heard of Marianne Moore. When I told him I had, he sat down next to me and shared the story of his day. He had been walking up and down the promenade all morning asking people if they knew who she was. This man was delighted to have found me, although we ended up not actually talking about Marianne Moore.
Marianne Moore was born on November 15, 1887 in Kirkwood, Missouri. She attended Bryn Mawr College in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1909 with an A.B. in history, economics, and political science. As a student, she wrote poetry and short stories for the campus literary magazine Tipyn O’Bob, inspiring her later career as a poet and writer.
Moore published extensively throughout her career, establishing herself as one of America’s most renowned poets alongside the likes of Ezra Pound, H.D., and T.S. Eliot. In 1915, her poems appeared in both The Egoist, a literary journal based in London, and the Chicago-based Poetry journal. Her first book of poetry, aptly titled Poems, was published in 1916. In 1924, her second book of poetry Observations, won the Dial Award. In the late 1920s, Moore became editor of The Dial, a well-established, yet sporadically published, literary magazine which focused on a variety of subject matter throughout its tenure. Moore came on as editor in 1925 and would serve as until the journal’s final year in 1929.
After publication of The Dial ended, Moore and her mother moved to 260 Cumberland Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Fort Greene where they lived for the next thirty-six years. For nearly half of that time spent in Brooklyn, Moore tended to her elderly mother who passed away in 1947. Moore remained in Fort Greene until 1965 before moving to Greenwich Village in Manhattan.
In 1951, she won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for her fifth book of poetry Collected Poems, forever solidifying her legacy. In her later years, Moore became synonymous with her eccentric attire of donning a black cape and tricorn hat, as seen above from a reception at the Gage & Tollner’s restaurant in Brooklyn Heights. She passed away in 1972 at the age of eighty-four.
Moore’s time spent in Brooklyn lives on to this day. Her house on Cumberland Street still exists and her papers and ephemera are open to researchers at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia.
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