Friday, February 26, 2010

The Anglo Manxman – A Life of A. W. Moore

This recent publication brings to life the remarkable story of one of the Island’s best known figures in both politics and literature. Held as part of the winter series of lectures given by the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society at the Manx Museum, Dr. Fyson, former senior lecturer in history and contributor to other Manx publications, gave his audience an insight into how the book was written rather than an extensive report of its contents.  Dr. Fyson revealed that it took him two years to research his subject, but a mere seven weeks to write Moore’s biography.

As a prominent member of the Manx community and a former Speaker of the House of Keys basic facts about the man were readily available, but the challenge for Dr. Fyson was how to reveal more about Moore’s personality. Reading Moore’s personal diaries proved to be a disappointment; filled with plenty of facts, but regrettably no emotional content.

Moore loved to travel extensively around the world and it was hoped that his travel diaries may have provided a more meaningful insight into his life, but Dr. Fyson’s hopes were dashed as it became apparent that they were lost over time.

Despite these set backs Dr. Fyson still had many details to work with including those taken from notes left by the late Canon John Quine, and undertook further investigation of the historical archive at the Manx Museum, local newspapers, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and a number of personal letters exchanged with other Manx worthies. Dr. Fyson also had the valuable assistance of A. W. Moore’s great grandson William Moore.

Dr. Fyson remarked that as much of his research material was concentrated in such a small area, i.e. the Isle of Man, this made his task much easier.

Moore was born into a wealthy family, became a prolific author, politician, Celticist and Royalist and died of cancer at the age of 56, but his widow then surprised everybody by remarrying within fourteen months of his death. Her second husband, Fred Clucas MHK, tactfully resigned from his position and the newly weds went to live in Bristol, England, well away from a disapproving public gaze on the Isle of Man. Later they returned to the Island and Clucas was restored to the House of Keys, spending eighteen years as Speaker.

Dr. Fyson readily admitted that time did not permit him to extend his research further into the life of Fred Clucas, but nevertheless felt that he was a neglected personality in Manx history, suggesting that he would be worthy of  further investigation.

‘The Anglo Manxman – A Life of A. W. Moore’ can be purchased through the Manx Heritage Foundation website. www.manxheritage.org   www.manxantiquarians.com
Valerie Caine © February 2010

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