The Bishop's Daughter: A Memoir

(W.W. Norton & Company, 2008; paperback edition, by W.W. Norton & Company, 2009; now also available in ebook format from Amazon and the iBookstore)

Paul Moore’s vocation as an Episcopal priest took him – with his wife Jenny and a family that grew to nine children – from robber baron wealth to work among the urban poor of postwar America, prominence as an activist bishop in Washington during the Johnson years, leadership in the Civil Rights and Peace movements, and two decades as the Bishop of New York. The Bishop’s Daughter is a daughter’s story of that complex,visionary man: a chronicle of her turbulent relationship with a father who privately struggled with his sexuality while she openly explored hers, and a searching account of the consequences of sexual secrets. With depth of questioning that recalls James Carroll’s An American Requiem, this memoir engages the reader in the great issues of American life: war, race, family, sexuality, and faith.What is the nature of memoir, and how does it intersect with history? Honor Moore’s rich and beautiful new book, The Bishop’s Daughter, offers some answers to these questions. Moore’s thoughtful investigations encompass the intimate history of her own family and the philosophical history of the Episcopalian church; the great cultural network of the Protestant tribe, the ethics of twentieth-century marriage, and, finally, and most powerfully, the nature of passion. This is a gorgeous book, full of experience, wisdom and caritas.
— Roxana Robinson


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(Copyright by the author, all rights reserved.)

The Prologue

It is Easter, and in the darkness of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine the singing soars in descant, the gothic ceiling multiplying the clamor. And now, as if a great storm has ceased, there is no music, and in the silence held by three thousand worshipers, there come three resounding knocks. And as we wait, the massive doors swing open, an ethereal shaft of sunlight floods the dark, the roar of the city breaks the gigantic quiet, and there at the far end of the aisle, in a blaze of morning light, stands the tall figure of a man. My flesh-and-blood father, the bishop.

When I was a child, I accepted my father as a force of imagination that flared and burst and coruscated, an instrument of transformation. During World War II, he had survived a Japanese bullet and had a scar to prove it. “If my heart had been going this way instead of that,”he announced once, rowing me across the lake in the Adirondacks, “you would never have existed!” Remembering his saying that now, I am startled. It was a joke of course, but it was also the text of a lesson that endured throughout our life together. My father had supernatural powers. His fate had determined my existence. I was something he had made and would continue to make. Physical independence from my physical parents was one thing—I got too big to hold my mother’s hand, too big to ride on my father’s shoulders—but it took me decades to escape the enchantment of my father’s priesthood.


The New Yorker

Excerpt from “The Bishop’s Daughter” a Personal History from The New Yorker, March 3, 2008

Podcast interview with Honor Moore about “The Bishop’s Daughter” with Matt Dellinger of



New Yorker Out Loud Podcast

Honor Moore talks with about her new book The Bishop’s Daughter. March 3, 2008.