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  • A Portrait of Margaret Gough and Her Memoir, "George Moore"
  • Brendan Fleming

George Moore wrote to Margaret Gough, his secretary, at the end of her time working for him in 1913:

You are a first rate shorthand writer and typist and should find a well paid post in a publishers office, and your translations from Tourgueneff guarantee you to be one to whom a publisher might turn to for advice regarding the nature of a manuscript. I cannot imagine a more valuable reader than yourself.1

Moore's praise of both her translations from Turgenev and her acute critical skills sharpens interest in a woman whose name has flickered only briefly in studies of Moore. Nancy Cunard, a close friend of Moore's, affectingly wrote of Gough: "I should have liked to have known her, but saw her only once."2 The discovery that Gough wrote a memoir about her time with Moore is important: it sheds light on a key working relationship in Moore's career at the time of the Irish Literary Revival and provides an opportunity to appreciate the significance of Gough in her own right.

The memoir is published here for the first time.3 Its vivid portrait of Gough's working relationship with Moore is accompanied by a drawing showing her aiming a typewriter at him (Fig. 1). Undated and unsigned, it has written on it: "I don't wonder you threw the typewriter at him!" It is an image of comedy and intimacy, perfectly capturing Oliver St. John Gogarty's description of Moore "arguing with his secretary, 'composing,' as he calls the daily wrangle."4


The most substantial account of Margaret Gough to date is by Helmut Gerber, though even he lamented the lack of biographical information on her.5 Margaret Mary Gough was born on 8 November 1886 to Thomas Joseph Gough, a market gardener, and Mary Jane Simmons.6 She had a least one sister, Catherine Mary, who went on to marry into the [End Page 219] Kiberd family of Dublin. Serendipitously, it transpires that Margaret Gough was the great-aunt of Professor Declan Kiberd who has written illuminatingly on Moore and the Irish Literary Revival.7 By 1901, Gough was employed in a copying office in Dublin. It was here that she first met Moore, who, impressed by her secretarial skills, employed her as his secretary for the next twelve and one-half years. This is the period covered by the memoir. When, in early 1911, Moore moved from Ely Place in Dublin to Ebury Street in London, Gough, along with his servants from Dublin, moved with him.

Gerber describes Margaret Gough as Moore's "first long-term secretary."8 She worked in that capacity for Moore from 1901 until late 1913. It seems that Moore used various typists and secretaries at different times during this period.9 The Irish journalist, Anna Kelly, was also at some time his secretary.10 Another such figure who worked for Moore was Mabel FitzGerald neé McConnell (1884-1957), Irish nationalist and wife of Desmond FitzGerald. She had been secretary to George Bernard Shaw for a brief period during early 1909.11

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Fig. 1.

Moore a Target of Gough's Typewriter
"I don't wonder you threw the typewriter at him!"

[End Page 220]

It is against this complex background that an incident related by Oliver St. John Gogarty must be read. Having remarked that Moore had two or three secretaries a year, he goes on to recount an anecdote concerning one of these secretaries, a "Miss Jugge," who became pregnant and stole some of his manuscripts. To hide her condition, she told Moore that she had to go away to visit her mother.12 The identity of Miss Jugge has never been established. There is no evidence that this refers to Margaret Gough. The cordial relations between her and Moore, his high opinion of her and evidence that they were still in touch during the 1920s when he helped her family financially would indicate this. However, there is an enigmatic reference to Gough in a letter Moore wrote to his brother, Maurice, on 4 August 1906...


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pp. 219-243
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