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Local Writing Legends

Brian Moore

The War Years

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By his late teens Moore had made up his mind to leave Ulster. There was nothing to keep him. He remembers lying on top of Cave Hill at the age of eighteen, overlooking all of Belfast, reading The Sun Also Rises . This book and Joyce's Ulysses (which Moore had borrowed from a cousin who smuggled it in from Paris) formed Moore's desire to leave Ireland to be a writer. He realised that he was always an exile, always on the outside looking in.

For Moore, World War II was a liberating force. To his family's disapproval, he became an ARP warden and witnessed firsthand the stark horror of war. When Moore's father died in 1942, he decided to put his life in Belfast behind him. He travelled overseas to work for the Ministry of War Transport in North Africa, then moved on to Europe. He worked for the United Nations Relief effort in Eastern Europe, where he visited Auschwitz.

Moore moved to Canada in 1948 in pursuit of his then girlfriend. He did not receive a warm welcome. 'She told me to get lost,' Moore said, 'There I was on her doorstep not a welcome sight - I was the last person she wanted to see!' Moore did not despair. He found himself his first writing job on the Montreal Gazette.

Moore's home was everywhere and nowhere. He left Ireland - the place that shaped him - during World War II and worked in North Africa, France and Italy. He moved to Canada where he became a writer, but the United States became his home for over thirty years.

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