Merrill Moore Papers

Identifier: MSS.0301

  • Staff Only


This three-box collection contains materials relating to the life of Merrill Moore. Merrill Moore (1903-1957) was a native Tennessean, neurological physician, veteran, and poet. The collection is primarily comprised of his poetry, manuscripts, and letters (both incoming and outgoing) about and by Merrill Moore. It also includes photographs, programs, newspaper clippings, biographical materials, tape recordings, and miscellaneous documents all pertaining to Merrill Moore’s life.


  • 1929 - 1955


Conditions Governing Access

This collection may be viewed only in the reading room of Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Collections should be requested 2-3 days prior to visiting in order to facilitate easier access. For questions or to request a collection, contact

Biographical Note - Merrill Moore (1903-1957)

Austin Merrill Moore was born on September 11, 1903, in Columbia, Tenn. His father, John Trot­wood Moore, was a writer, editor, and state librarian of Tennes­see; his mother, Mary Brown Daniel Moore, was a music teach­er who succeeded her husband as state librarian upon his death in 1929. The family moved to Nashville in 1907, where the father began editing the Taylor-Trotwood Magazine. Moore attended Montgomery Bell Academy, a private preparatory school in Nash­ville, and in 1920 entered Vanderbilt University. He joined the Fugitive group in 1922, while still an undergraduate and contrib­uted prolifically to its magazine during its four years of publication. He spent the summer of 1923 in Germany, and in 1924, upo graduation from the college, he entered Vanderbilt Medical School, completing his M.D. in 1928. After a year's internship in Nashville, he was appointed in 1929 as neurological house officer at the Boston City Hospital. He lived most of the rest of his life in Boston, except for a period of military service during World War II. He studied psychiatry with Dr. William Herman (1931) and Dr. Hanns Sach (1934-1938). He was awarded a Common­ wealth Research Fellowship at Harvard Medical School and in 1950 began teaching there. He also maintained a private psychiat­ric practice in Boston (Edwin Arlingtmi Robinson was among his patients). Moore died in Boston on September 20, 1957. Moore successfully combined a professional career as a psychiatrist with an energetic amateur career as a poet. At the Fugitive meetings, Moore often produced a sheaf of poems when other poets were·laboring to perfect a single poem; he said he found it easier to write a new poem than to revise an old one. He kept up his sonneteering habit all his life, writing more than 50,000 altogether. His sonnets are outwardly conventional, all in fourteen lines, but otherwise quite unconventional, since he preferred a loose free verse to traditional rhyming patterns. Moore's sonnets are always frank and refreshing, and if few of them are more than momentarily arresting, of these few it can be said, in his friend Allen Tate's words, "They have, at their best, a fluency, an ease, and a subtlety of statement which gives them a definite place in contemporary poetry." WORKS: The Noise That Time Makes, foreword by John Crowe Ransom (1929). It ls a Good Deal Later Than You Think (1934). Six Sides to a Man (1935). Poems from the Fugitive, 1922-26 (1936). Sonnets from the Fugitive, 1922-26 (1937). 15 Poems from the Fugitive, 1922-26, and One Additional Poem: Ego (1938). Sonnets from New Directions, preface by William Carlos Williams {1938). M: One Thousand Autobiographical Sonnets (1938). The Fugitive: Clippings and Comment about the Maga­ zine and the Members of the Group that Published It (1939). Clinical Sonnets (1949). Illegitimate Sonnets (1950). Case Record from a Son­netorium (1951). More Clinical Sonnets (1953). Homo Sonetticus Mooren­sis, twelve sonnets by Moore with Italian trans. Alexander Bode (1955). Poems of Americcm Life, intro. Louis Untermeyer (1958). The Dance of Death (1959).


Sept. 11 1903 Born, Columbia, Tenn., to John Trotwood and Mary Brown (Daniel) Moore

1916-1920 Student at Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville

1920-1924 Student, Vanderbilt University; B.A., 1924

1921-1926 Member of the Fugitive group of poets, Vanderbilt University

1922-1925 Contributor to The Fugitive magazine

1924-1928 Student, Vanderbilt Medical School; M.D. 1928

Summer 1926 Taught French at Fisk University

1928-1929 Interne, St. Thomas Hospital, Nashville

1929 Publication of The Noise that Time Makes (New York: Harcourt Brace); awarded the Caroline Sinkler Award by the Poetry Society of South Carolina

1929-1930 Neurological House Officer, Boston City Hospital

Aug. 14, 1930 Married Ann Leslie Nichol

1930-1931 Resident Neurological Physician, Boston City Hospital; Teaching Fellow in Neurology, Harvard Medical School

1931 Birth of first son (first child), Adam

1931-1932 Assistant Physician, Boston Psychopathic Hospital; Assistant in Neuropathology, Harvard Medical School

1931-1933 Psychoanalytic training with Dr. William Herman

1932-1935 Commonwealth Fellow, Boston Psychopathic Hospital; Research Fellow in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

1933 Birth of second son (second child), John Trotwood

1933-1934 Graduate Assistant, Psychiatric Clinic (Neurological Out­ Patient Dept.), Massachusetts General Hospital

1934-1935 Junior Visiting Physician, Boston City Hospital

1934-1938 Psychoanalytic training with Dr. Hans Sachs

1935 Birth of third son (third child), Leslie; publication of Six-Sides to a-Man (New York: Harcourt Brace; entered private practice of psychiatry, Boston

1935-1936 Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

1936 Publication of Poems The Fugitive (New York: Beekman Hill Press)

1936-1938 Assistant Visiting Neurologist and Director of W,P.A. Alcoholism Survey and Syphilis Project, Boston City Hospital; Consulting Neurologist and Psychiatrist, Chelsea Marine Hospital; Psychiatric Assistant1 Department of Hygiene, Harvard College

1936-1938 Research Fellow in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School Research Fellow in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

1937 Birth of first daughter (fourth child), Hester

1838 Publication of_M: One Thousand Autobiographical Sonnets (New York: Harcourt Brace), Sonnets from New Directions (Norfolk, Conn.: New Directions)

1939 Psychiatrist, Boston City Hospital

March 1941 Medical Director of Washingtonian Hospital (for alcoholics)1 Boston

Dec. 1941 Made honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa

Jan 1942 Director of Research, Washingtonian Hospital

May 1942 Entered Medical Corps, U.S. Army, as major; stationed in Denver

Nov. 1942 Sent to New Zealand as Chief of Psychiatric Division, Yale Medical Unit, 39th General Hospital (in Wellington Province near Auckland)

Jan. 1943 Speaker at Purple Heart citation ceremony, U.S. Naval Hospital, Wellington Province, New Zealand

April 1943 Speaker at graduation ceremony, Auckland University College

Nov. (?) 1944 Awarded Bronze Star for "meritorious achievement" at Bougainville (March 1944)

June 1945 3()-days leave in Boston after 31 months overseas

1945-1946 Chief of Neuro-Psychiatric Section, Lovell General Hospital, Fort Devens, Mass.

May 1946 Lieutenant colonel, Medical Corps; surgeon for the American Command, Nanking, China

July 1946 Army Commendation Ribbon

Nov. 1946 Terminal leave from Army, Boston

Jan 1947 Resumed private practice, staff duties at Boston City Hospital, Harvard Medical School, etc.

Nov. 1947 Chinese decoration, Yen Hui Special Class, awarded by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek

1949 Publication of clinical Sonnets (New York: Twayne)

1950 Publication of Illegitimate Sonnets (New York: Twayne)

1951 Publication of Case Record from a Sonnetorium (New York: Twayne

1953 Gave up positions in Harvard Medical School, Boston City Hospital, etc; retained private practice and position as Research Associate, Laboratory of Human Relations, Harvard College; publication of Fugitive Sonnets ( Aldington, Kent: Hand and Flower Press), Clinical Sonnets, illustrated ed. (New York: Twayne), and More Clinical Sonnets (New York: Twayne)

1954 Publication of Veree-Diary of a Psychiatrist (Baltimore: Contemporary Poetry), From a Psychiatrist's Notebook (Christchurch, N.Z.: Pegasus Press), and Fugitive (Dublin: Dolmen Press)

1955 Publication of A Doctor's Book of Hours (Springfield, Ill.: Thomas), Homo Sonnetticus Moorensis Interlingua translation of 12 sonnets (New York: Stora), and War Diary of an Army Psychiatrist (Baltimore: Contemporary Poetry

1956 Publication of Moi et autres poems fugitifs (Paris: Caracteres) and Experimental Sonnets (Christchurch, N.Z.: Pegasus Press)

1957 Publication of The Dance of Death in the Twentieth Centne1 (New York: Rubin) and The Hill of Venus (New York: Twayne)

Died, Boston, Mass.


1.26 Linear Feet (3 Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Special Collections & Archives

Separated Materials

The original finding aid notes- "In addition, gargoyle, brought from Paris by Merrill Moore as a gift to Sidney Hirsch and kept by Hirsh until his death, has been given by Miss Hirsch. (See Archives Drawer 41)". No such item can be found.

Finding Aid for the Merrill Moore Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States


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