“A Visit from St. Nicholas”, best known by the first line “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, is a poem about a visit from St. Nicholas on Christmas Eve first published in 1823. It is the best known Christmas poem and led to many of the current traditions and beliefs about Santa Claus. The poem features in many Christmas stories, films, television shows and music. There are four original handwritten copies of the poem and one is signed by the author. Let’s find out who wrote this famous poem.
Who wrote “Twas the Night Before Christmas”?
The author of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” is the subject of much debate. The poem is usually credited to American professor Clement Clarke Moore and he signed the handwritten original copy for a friend. However, this signing was long after the poem was published. His friend Charles Hoffman was the first to credit Moore as the author. Moore wasn’t initially interested in claiming authorship, although Moore later approved the inclusion of the poem in his anthology (collection of work).
It was 26 years after the poem was printed that an alternative claim of authorship arose. At this time the family of Major Henry Livingston, Jr discovered that Moore had begun to claim authorship for a poem that they believed Livingston had written years before it was published. However, the family had no evidence to prove this claim. In recent years, Donald Foster, an expert in analyzing literature has argued that Moore could not have been the author. He supports the claim that the true author was Major Henry Livingston, Jr. However, unless further proof is found it is likely that Moore will be remembered as the author of this favorite Christmas poem.
Did you know>
The handwritten copy of the poem with Moore’s signature was sold to a private collector for $280,000 in 2006.