Ruth Moore was born and raised on Gott’s Island in the early 1900’s. Ruth was a best selling author from the 1940’s and on (and even had a book made into a movie “Deep Waters.”) She was called “New England’s answer to Faulkner” and if you like reading honest stories about Maine people in an authentic voice, you won’t be able to resist her novels, ballads and poetry. The issues she wrote about still resonate today. Each year we aim to introduce the works of Ruth Moore to a wider audience, while providing insightful conversation and programming to enrich our understanding of her life and work.
Every year, around July 21, the Bass Harbor Memorial Library celebrates Tremont’s iconic bestselling author. We host an art show featuring work inspired by Moore’s writing, and host explore Ruth’s impact, history and legacy through programs such as author talks, panel discussions and theatre. In the past we have toured her home on Gott’s Island and her home in Bass Harbor.
Who Is Ruth Moore?
A Tremont native, born in 1903 and raised on Great Gott Island, Ruth Moore was an important Maine author of the twentieth century. She is best known for her honest portrayals of Maine people and evocative descriptions of the state. Moore was a significant literary figure on the national stage during her career. Her second novel Spoonhandle spent fourteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in the company of George Orwell, W. Somerset Maugham and Robert Penn Warren. In her time, Moore was hailed by critics as “New England’s only answer to Faulkner”.
Author, poet and essayist of over 25 novels, collections, short fiction and essays, including The Weir (1943), Spoonhandle (1946), Candlemas Bay (1950), Speak to the Winds (1956), Cold As a Dog and the Wind Northeast (1958), The Tired Apple Tree (1990), When Foley Craddock Tore Off My Grandfather’s Thumb: The Collected Stories of Ruth Moore and Eleanor Mayo (2004)
The Bass Harbor Memorial Library has a large collection of Ruth Moore novels, poetry and essays for you to check out, and many new and used copies of select titles to purchase. Call 244-3798, or stop by the Library at 89 Bernard Rd in Bernard for more information.
Click the links below to start your exploration.
“Ruth Moore Remembered” by Harry Gatwick in Working Waterfront
A more personal, in-depth introduction to Moore as relayed by her friends and family.
“Homesick For That Place: Ruth Moore Writes About Maine” by Jennifer Craig
This excellent article explores Moore’s unique voice, why she was and still is, an important literary figure, and her impact on not only Maine authors, but the larger cannon of place and character driven novels.
“Ruth Moore: Maine Coast Writer” by Donald Mortland, Colby Quarterly
Article written about Moore in 1979, at a time when she was still actively writing and publishing. “There are several ruinous rocks to be skirted in writing about the Maine coast. One is the danger of being sentimental. Another is the tendency to be folksy. A third is the danger of falling into ruts made by previous writers that lead into folksy stories about quaint people with hearts of gold who speak a peculiar dialect, mourn about the past, and spend their lives dealing with trivia over which the author makes them triumphant in some minuscule way. Ruth Moore avoids all of these.”
“A Literary Refuge: Ruth Moore and Eleanor Mayo” by Sven Davvison
Explores Ruth Moore and Eleanor Mayo’s history and life together in Maine and beyond, as partners and as authors in their own right.
Ruth Moore collection, 1917-1995 at UNE’s Maine Women Writer’s Collection
A brief biography with links to a catalog of UNE’s entire Ruth Moore collection
Tremont Historical Society
The Tremont Historical Society is dedicated to the preservation of the history of the towns of Tremont, Southwest Harbor, and the adjacent islands. The Society achieves this mission by gathering, cataloging, and making available to the public historical materials such as genealogies and information on the growth and development of the towns, as well as historical artifacts. The are hosting a full schedule of programming in Summer 2020.
Penobscot Marine Museum’s Panel Discussion of “Maine Women Authors Of The 1950’s”
Cathleen Miller, Curator of the Maine Women Writers Collection at UNE, Melissa Hays, Ruth Moore Days organizers, Muriel Davisson and devotee Jane O’Rouke discuss how the novels of Mary Ellen Chase, Elisabeth Ogilive, Ruth Moore, Miriam Colwell and Louise Dickinson Rich provide different portraits of the people and the state of Maine.
Review of the Stonington Opera House’s 2018 production of “I Have Seen Horizons: Ruth Moore’s Stories from Maine.”
The 2018 production of vignettes was based on seven of Ruth Moore’s short stories and poems and adapted for the stage by director Meg Taintor.
Watch Deep Waters on Youtube
“A troubled young orphan boy in Maine is taken in by a family and befriended by a lobsterman who shows him the ways of the world. Starring Dana Andrews, Jean Peters, Dean Stockwell, Cesar Romero, Ann Revere.” The 1948 film adaptation of Ruth Moore’s “Spoonhandle”, filmed on Vinalhaven took great liberties with her writing, but it had a big Hollywood budget and big Hollywood stars. The entire movie is available for free on Youtube split into 4 episodes.
In 2020, we asked local artists to submit artwork inspired by Ruth Moore, the people and places she wrote about, or a particular piece of writing. Click HERE to view the slideshow.
Frenchboro native Dean Lunt started Islandport Press 20 years ago and has taken over the task of republishing and distributing Ruth Moore’s books from Blackberry Press. The press plans to release two novels a year for three or four years, starting with The Weir, Candlemas Bay and Spoonhandle, currently available now. In 2021, the press will release Voices off the Ocean, a new collection of excerpts and poems intended as an introduction to Ruth Moore’s work.
All selections are reprinted here with permission from Blackberry Books. Copies can be purchased at Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick Maine or at Islandport Press. Select new and used copies may be purchased at the Library at 89 Bernard Rd. in Bernard. Call or stop by for titles in stock.