Happy Birthday Marianne Moore

Dee Bowers

Black and white portrait of poet Marianne Moore
PORT_0606, Marianne Moore, 1949, black and white silver gelatin print. Photographs from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, BCMS.0002. Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History. 

Brooklyn poet Marianne Moore was born on this day in 1887. For a birthday tribute, today's Photo of the Week is this striking portrait of her from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle photo morgue. This image appeared in the Eagle on June 3, 1951 alongside an announcement of Moore winning an honorary degree at the University of Rochester. That same year, Moore's Collected Poems won the Bollingen Prize, National Book award, and the Pulitzer Prize, more than earning the title bestowed by the Eagle of "Brooklyn's distinguished woman poet." The Eagle article also makes sure to take note of her "Cumberland Street flat"--Moore's storied Fort Greene home, at which she hosted many other literary icons.

As in many of the Eagle photographs in our collection, this image displays very visible signs of the retouching and cropping that was done to make images more suitable for newspaper printing. Unusually, however, this image was then photographed a second time, complete with the pinhole-strewn background of the surface to which it was affixed. The result is somewhat disorienting, but compelling: Moore's steady and commanding gaze, staring out at us from within its quotidian frame. Though the photo is dated 1949, it seems impossible that Moore could be 62 in this image. Compare, for example, to this photo from 1967, in which Moore is 80. It seems more likely that the original image was taken earlier, a younger version of Moore who nonetheless projects the quiet confidence of the literary giant she was destined to become.

Interested in seeing more photos from CBH’s collections? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images, or the digital collections portal at Brooklyn Public Library. We look forward to inviting you to CBH in the future to research in our entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections. In the meantime, please visit our resources page to search our collections. Questions? Our reference staff is available to help with your research! You can reach us at cbhreference@bklynlibrary.org.


This blog post reflects the opinions of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Brooklyn Public Library.


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