Brian Moore (1921–1999) was born into a large, devoutly Catholic family in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His father was a surgeon and lecturer, and his mother had been a nurse. Moore left Ireland during World War II and in 1948 moved to Canada, where he worked for the Montreal Gazette, married his first wife, and began to write potboilers under various pen names, as he would continue to do throughout the 1950s. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1955, now available as an NYRB Classic), said to have been rejected by a dozen publishers, was the first book Moore published under his own name, and it was followed by nineteen subsequent novels written in a broad range of modes and styles, from the realistic to the historical to the quasi-fantastical, including The Luck of Ginger Coffey, An Answer from Limbo, The Emperor of Ice-Cream, I Am Mary Dunne, Catholics, Black Robe, and The Statement. Three novels—Lies of Silence, Color of Blood, and The Magician’s Wife—were short-listed for the Booker Prize, and The Great Victorian Collection won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. After adapting The Luck of Ginger Coffey for film in 1964, Moore moved to California to work on the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain. He remained in Malibu for the rest of his life, remarrying there and teaching at UCLA for some fifteen years. Shortly before his death, Moore wrote, “There are those stateless wanderers who, finding the larger world into which they have stumbled vast, varied and exciting, become confused in their loyalties and lose their sense of home. I am one of those wanderers.”
After his movie-star wife dispenses with him, Jamey Mangan decamps to Ireland in search of his roots. After all, he bears an uncanny resemblance to the only known photograph of the famous Irish poète maudit James Clarence Mangan. Filled with pathos and humor, The Mangan Inheritance is a cautionary tale for those seeking their presents in their pasts.
Brian Moore, a major Irish writer who was short-listed for the Booker Prize three times, was an astute chronicler of the human soul, as shown in these two remarkable novels.
A deeply sympathetic portrait of a Belfast woman, come down in the world and denied the comforts once granted to her sort (from the Catholic Church, from her genteel friends), who has a shameful secret. This is the book that launched Brian Moore’s career.