Moore, John Robert, 1890-1973

Alternative names
Birth 1890
Death 1973

Biographical notes:

Distinguished Service Professor at Indiana University.

John Robert Moore earned his AB and AM degrees at the Univ. of Missouri in 1910 and 1914 and his PhD in 1917 at Harvard. After teaching at various universities around the ocuntry, Prof. Moore came to IU in 1922 where he had a distinguished career in the English Dept. even after his retirement in 1961. Professor Moore's published research covers almost all areas of English and American literature. From the early 1930s on, however, he has been internationally known as one of the leading scholars of Augustan literature and history and a specialist in the political and literary activities of Daniel Defoe.

From the description of John Robert Moore papers, 1910-1972 1930-1970. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 52507867

Distinguished Service Professor John Robert Moore, one of the finest teachers and scholars in the history of Indiana University, died at the age of 83 on July 18, 1973. Professor Moore's published research covered almost all areas of English and American literature, with special emphasis on English dramatic history, the poetry and fiction of Sir Walter Scott, the plays of Shakespeare, and early English ballads. From the early 1930's, however, he has been internationally known as one of the leading scholars of Augustan literature and history and a specialist in the political and literary activities of Daniel Defoe. Of his scholarly books and monographs, four dealt with Defoe; of his 150-odd articles (ten of these in PMLA) more than 55 dealt with Defoe. His best known books are Daniel Defoe: Citizen of the Modern World (University of Chicago Press, 1958) and A Checklist of the Writings of Daniel Defoe (I.U. Press, 1960). It was Professor Moore who established the Defoe canon, beginning in 1950 with his discovery that the widely-read General History of the Pirates, attributed to a Captain Charles Johnson, was actually the work of Defoe. During the following decades, he added nearly 150 new titles to standard Defoe bibliographies and rejected as spurious some 30 titles included in such works.

Professor Moore was born in Pueblo, Colorado, in 1890, received his A.B. and A.M. degrees in 1910 and 1914 from the University of Missouri, and his Ph.D. in 1917 from Harvard. After teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin, Delaware, Michigan, and Washington, he came to Indiana University as an Associate Professor of English in 1922 and was promoted to Professor in 1929. During the years of his teaching career, which extended well beyond his retirement in 1961, he taught in thirteen states, in Canada, and in England. He wrote in his 1967-68 annual report: "This is to be the first calendar year since September, 1910, when I have not taught in some form of teaching....I am the last member of my family in my generation to give up teaching--a record that runs from the distant grandfather (Rev. Thomas Burges) who taught George Washington's future wife, on down through my father and mother and two brothers and three sisters, to our two daughters (both of them now retired from teaching)."

In addition to his teaching and scholarly work Professor Moore published a considerable amount of poetry, some of it collected and reissued in Symphonies and Songs ; he also edited anthologies of English drama, English Poetry, and English and American essays. He lectured widely, in this country and abroad, often as the principle speaker at conferences of the many distinguished scholarly societies to which he had been elected, including the Royal Academy, the Oxford Bibliographical Society, and the London Bibliographical Society. Among the many honors which came to him, Professor Moore was the first Senior Fellow of the Henry E. Huntington Library.

It may not be easy for those who never knew him to appreciate the enormous vitality which led to one of his colleagues to write of him in 1961 that he seemed to be living several lives concurrently. But there are anecdotes, surely only a few of hundreds, which may capture something of the man. The Keeper of the Printed Books at the Bodlein could say of Professor Moore--"he deserved to make discoveries"; and this same man, a former athlete himself, could also quote baseball players' batting averages over a forty-year span. He was gaining a reputation as a Defoe detective in the early 1930's, yet he would lie awake mornings thinking of the General History of the Pirates : "what will I do if I find out that Defoe did not write the History after all." He was apparently a notoriously bad driver, perhaps in part because of what Professor George Healey of Cornell once wrote to him: "One would think you yourself lived in Queen Annes time. I suppose, in a sense, you do." His delight at having the National Library of Scotland opened for him during a four-day holiday and at being given the remarkable privilege of working alone in it was primarily because he was "alone with the ghosts of Defoe and Walter Scott." One of his pleasures in being elected to the Royal Academy of Arts was that he was at last in a society founded in his "own" century.

But he was always a scholar, from the time at age 8 when he discovered that his school-edition of Robinson Crusoe presented events in the wrong order to he time when he became certain that Defoe had written the General History of the Pirates, a time when, as he described it: "I was like Lewis Carroll's Alice on the other side of the looking glass, and I could wander around in the anonymous and pseudonymous literature of Defoe's period, making discoveries as I pleased."

Biographical note from: Bloomington Faculty Council Circular B18-75, Memorial Resolution on the Death of John Robert Moore.

From the guide to the John Robert Moore papers, 1910-1972, bulk 1930-1970, (Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management


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