Ireland's Minstrel: A Life of Tom Moore: Poet, Patriot and Byron’s Friend by Linda Kelly - review by P J Kavanagh

P J Kavanagh

A Passion to Entertain

Ireland's Minstrel: A Life of Tom Moore: Poet, Patriot and Byron’s Friend

By

I B Tauris 259pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

Nothing is more difficult to convey in a biography than the personal charm of its subject (should he or she possess that quality, which Thomas Moore did, in bucketfuls), and it is greatly to Linda Kelly's credit that she triumphantly does so. Her task is made easier because nearly everyone he met fell, in some sense, in love with him, even his opponent in an early duel, and they said so, even the hardest-headed. He could not go on a sea voyage without making a lifelong friend of the captain, and Byron, who adored him, confided to his journal whilst travelling: ‘He has but one fault – and that one I daily regret – he is not here.’

Born in 1779 in Dublin, the son of a Catholic grocer, loving and loved by his mother and father, from the beginning he climbed like a rocket, which of course aroused suspicion. A recent American commentator dismissed him as ‘an endearing little snob’, and his contemporary Leigh Hunt sneered that

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter