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October 01, 2023 2 min read

Do you know anything about the author of the most famous Christmas poem? Clement Clarke Moore had a fascinating life including giving the land to develop the residential neighborhood of Chelsea, New York!

We hope you enjoy reading about a man who always pursued reading and writing, loved children (having nine of his own) and who shared his wonder and joy with them at Christmas through this poem. What gifts will you share with your children in this life? Don't miss our other blog containing the actual poem, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and feel free to print out and read to your children this year!

Clement Clarke Moore was born in New York City, the son of the Reverend Benjamin Moore and Charity Clarke Moore. An only child, Clement was capably tutored at home by his father until he entered Columbia College. According to his biographer Samuel White Patterson, he graduated in 1798 "at the head of his class, as his father had, thirty years earlier." In 1801 he earned his MA from Columbia University: he was awarded an LLD in 1829. In 1813 Clement Moore married 19-year-old Catharine Elizabeth Taylor, with whom he eventually had nine children. 

Moore was Professor of Oriental and Greek Literature, as well as Divinity and Biblical Learning, at theGeneral Theological Seminary of theProtestant Episcopal Church in New York City from 1823 until he retired in 1850. Moore donated a large portion of land he had inherited to develop the seminary and the residential neighborhood of Chelsea, New York.

The seminary continues on this site at Ninth Avenue between 20th and 21st streets, in an area known as Chelsea Square. He also served for 44 years as a member of the board of trustees of Columbia College (later University),[1] and was a board member of theNew York Society Library and theNew York Institution for the BlindAt his retirement he purchased a house in Newport, Rhode Island, where he passed away on July 10, 1863.

During his lifetime Moore wrote on a variety of subjects. He produced a two-volume A Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language (1809), a translation from the French of A Complete Treatise on Merinos and Other Sheep (1811), and the historical biography George Castriot, Surnamed Scanderbeg, King of Albania (1850). Throughout his life he also wrote poetry, which was published in the Portfolio and similar periodicals.

Moore claimed to have been the author of "A Visit from St. Nicholas," asserting that he wrote the poem for his own children and recited it to them on Christmas Eve 1822. After it was published anonymously the following year, it became increasingly popular, appearing in newspapers, school readers, other anthologies, and in many different single editions. The New-York Book of Poetry (1837), an anthology of works by New York poets, contained some written by Moore, including "A Visit from St. Nicholas," although "Anonymous" was still listed as the author. Not until 1844, when Moore's collection Poems was published, was "A Visit from St. Nicholas" acknowledged in print as having been written by Clement C. Moore, LLD. 

Excerpts shared from poetry foundation.org