Clement Clarke Moore was born on July 15, 1779 in New York, New York, to Benjamin Moore and Charity Clarke. An only child, he was initially educated at home, but went on to graduate first in his class from Columbia University in 1798.
In 1813, Moore married Catharine Elizabeth Taylor. She was 19 and he was 34. They went on to have six children.
Moore became a scholar in Oriental and Greek literature, translated French history in to English and wrote a two-volume Hebrew dictionary, "A Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language". He was the editor of his father's sermons and wrote newspaper articles and political pamphlets, the most popular of which was an attack on Thomas Jefferson, "Observations Upon Certain Passages in Mr. Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, Which Appear to Have a Tendency to Subvert Religion and Establish a False Philosophy."
Despite his prestigious academic record, he is best known for a simple poem he made up for his children. He called it "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas." We know it today as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."
According to legend, Moore wrote this poem while on a sleigh ride on Christmas Eve night in 1822. It became immensely popular with his family and friends, and it was at the urging of his cousin, Harriet Butler, that it was published in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823. Perhaps because of his reputation as an intellectual, he resisted having his name linked to the poem until 1844, when it was published in a book of his poetry, Poems.
In 2000, Vassar College professor Don Foster presented evidence that disputed Moore's authorship of the poem. Please read mauler's excellent writeup for additional information.
Clement Moore died at his summer home in Newport, Rhode Island, on July 10, 1863, five days away from his 84th birthday. He is buried beside members of his family in Trinity Cemetery at the Church of the Intercession on Upper Broadway at 155th Street, New York City.