- Moore was born on July
15, 1779, in a large mansion, on his parents' Chelsea estate that encompassed the area
that is now 18th to 24th Streets between
Eighth and Tenth Avenues in Manhattan. The house itself was located
at what is now Eighth Avenue and West 23rd Street.
He was the only child of heiress Charity Clarke and Dr. Benjamin
Moore, Episcopal Bishop of New York, Rector of Trinity Church,
and President of Columbia College. Moore was educated at home
in his early youth and graduated first in his class from Columbia
- He became a well-known and respected scholar and, typical
for an educated person of his period, Moore's publications related
to a wide variety of topics such as religion, languages, politics,
and poetry. When he wrote A Visit from
St. Nicholas in 1822, Moore was a Professor of Oriental
Greek Literature, as well as Divinity and Biblical Learning,
at the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal
Church. Located on land donated by the "Bard of Chelsea"
himself, the seminary still stands today on Ninth Avenue between
20th and 21st Streets, in an area known
as Chelsea Square. Moore's connection with that institution continued
for over twenty-five years.
- At the age of thirty, he compiled a Hebrew lexicon, the first
work of its kind in America. He was forty-three when he wrote
A Visit from St. Nicholas, but it was not until he was
sixty-five, in 1844, that he first acknowledged that he was the
author of the famous verses by including the poem in a small
book of his poetry entitled Poems, which he had published at
the request of his children. He translated Juvenal, edited his
father's sermons, wrote treatises and political pamphlets, including
his well-known 1804 attack on our third president
in Observations Upon Certain Passages in Mr. Jefferson's Notes
on Virginia, Which Appear to Have a Tendency to Subvert Religion
and Establish a False Philosophy, and was often a contributor
to the editorial pages of local newspapers. He also wrote George
Castriot, Surnamed Scanderbeg, King of Albania, which appeared
in 1852 and was highly commended at the time.
- Despite this scholarship, it was the simple but magical poem
about the mysterious Christmas Eve visitor that has kept the
memory of Clement Clarke Moore alive. Although he was embarrassed
for most of his life that his scholarly works were overshadowed
by what he publicly considered a frivolous poem, Moore will forever
be remembered as the person who truly gave St. Nicholas to the
world. The poet of Christmas Eve lived a long and productive
life and died in Newport, Rhode Island, his summer home, on July
10, 1863, just a few days short of his eighty-fourth birthday.
Along with members of his family, he is buried in the Washington
Heights area of New York City, in Trinity Cemetery at the Church
of the Intercession on Upper Broadway at 155th Street.
- Clement C. Moore's image is
an engraving by J. W. Evans based on a portrait from life painted
for his children circa 1840.
- The rendering of Old Chelsea
mansion house is from Moore's St. Nicholas, the first
color illustrated version of the poem, with illuminations by
Mary C. Ogden, the poet's daughter, as a gift to her husband
- Samuel Patterson's The Poet
of Christmas Eve: A Life of Clement Clarke Moore was published
in 1956 by Morehouse-Gorham (New York); it is the only full-length
biography of Moore.