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Ruth Moore

Ruth Moore (1903-1989) was the second of four children born to Philip and Lovina Moore of Gott’s Island, Maine. Moore was raised and attended grammar school on the island, but left at the age of 14 to attend high school in Ellsworth. Soon after finishing high school, she entered the State Teacher’s College in Albany, New York, graduating with a degree in English in 1925. Moore remained in New York after college, and her parents left Gott’s Island in 1927. For four years, starting in 1926 Moore worked as a secretary for NAACP founder Mary White Ovington. In 1936, she worked for novelist Alice Tisdale Hobart, and in 1942, she became an editor at Reader’s Digest until 1947.


Living primarily in Greenwich Village (but also as far away as California), she moved in literary circles, and wrote primarily unpublished poetry during these years. Moore wrote a number of novels before publishing The Weir (W. Morrow and Co.) in 1943. Her second novel, Spoonhandle (1946), was turned into the movie Deep Waters by 20th Century Fox, the proceeds of which allowed her to buy land in Bass Harbor, but Moore ultimately disliked the results. From 1947 onward, Moore lived in Maine with her partner Eleanor Mayo.


Although she disliked the designation, Moore is considered a regional writer, often identified as the strongest one that Maine has produced. Her works are emotionally, politically, and socially complex reflections of life in small-town Maine, written with vivid descriptions of the landscape, and including local dialect. In addition to her novels, Moore published three compilations of poetry, including The Tired Apple Tree in 1990. In 1976, she received an honorary doctorate from Unity College. Moore died in Bar Harbor in 1989.


A collection of her letters, titled High Clouds Soaring, Storms Driving Low: The Letters of Ruth Moore, was edited by Sanford Phippen and published in 1993. Published in 2004 was When Foley Craddock Tore Off My Grandfather's Thumb, a collection of stories by Moore and Mayo, edited by Sven Davisson. Voices off the Ocean, edited by Dean Lunt, is slated for release in the Summer of 2021.

—fromMaine Women Writers Collection


Ruth Moore, April 1956

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