Sally Go Round the Moon - Thomas Moult

Thomas Moult


Thomas Moult (1885-1974)

Thomas Moult McKellan was born on 23 September 1885 in Mellor, Derbyshire to Samuel Dunseith McKellen and his second wife, Eliza Ann Moult; Thomas' father was an Irish-born photographic engineer. He was baptised on 17 October 1885 at St. Clement's Church on Lever Street, Manchester, England. Thomas was the third of six sons: Arthur, Frederick, Thomas, Samuel, Victor and Roderick.

On 12 June 1936, Thomas officially dropped his last name, McKellan, and signed as Thomas Moult.

In 1911, he married Bessie Boltiansky, born 18 April 1887, a Russian Jew from Elizabethgrad, who had been living in England as early as 1901, as seen in the 1901 Census. The 1927 Electoral Registers lists Thomas Moult McKellan and Bessie Moult McKellan living on Eastside Road, London England, in the Parish of Hendon.

In 1919, Thomas founded the magazine, Voices, which was intended for young writers.

In 1924, Thomas and Bessie had their only child, a daughter they named Joy Sylvia.

Between 1922-1943, Thomas compiled the annual anthology Best Poems of the Year. He wrote works of poetry and novels, including UPEI’s Provenance's signed copy of Sally Go Round the Moon, published in 1931. Thomas inscribed the book:

For Marjorie and Averil Hamilton (and their Mother and Father), with love from Joy Sylvia and her Mother and Father- Thomas Moult. With love and every good Christmas greeting 1932: this little story that they already know.....

Joy would have been 9 years old, and Marjorie and Averil Hamilton have not yet been identified.

The WWII years would be difficult for the Moult family. Thomas’ wife was of Jewish descent and that may have been the determining factor in their decision to head to the United States, just before the outbreak of the war. On 4 June 1939, Thomas, Bessie and Joy Sylvia arrived in New York, aboard the Georgic. Twenty-two days later, on 26 June 1939, Thomas boarded the Samaria in Boston and sailed back to Liverpool, England on his own.

In the 1940 US Census, Bessie and Joy are living on their own in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Joy attended the University of New Mexico and on occasion, Bessie gave lectures at the University and local organizations. The 18 July 1940 edition of the Albuquerque Journal states:

Mrs. Bessie Moult, English writer now living in Albuquerque will speak before the organization meeting of the local Committee for Care of Europe's Children at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Hilton.

In 1942, Bessie gave a lecture on writer Katherine Mansfield, stating they were “personal friends” before her death in 1923. Bessie also wrote poetry and her work is in the 1942 short verse anthology, Music in Miniature, edited by Ralph Cheyney and Lucia Trent.

By 1943, Bessie and Joy had moved to Denver, Colorado and were still living on their own. Two years later, in 1945, all three family members, Thomas, Bessie and Joy Sylvia, were reunited while Joy was enrolled in the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine. Within two years, Bessie was living at 239 Johnson Street, apartment 8, Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is listed as a teacher and a “(wid Thos)” [widow of Thomas] in the 1947 Santa Fe City Directory. This appears erroneous, as Thomas Moult’s death is registered in 1974 in Colchester, Essex, England. Bessie, who became a naturalized American citizen in 1950, also died in 1974 in America.

In 1946, Joy is reunited with her father in England. They are together in the Electoral Registers, but Bessie is not listed with them. In 1947, Joy married British neuropsychologist Oliver L. Zangwill, in England. They had one child, David A. Zangwill, who was born in Oxford in 1952, but died the following year in an alleged accident. Joy and Oliver divorced in 1975.

In 1952, Thomas became the president of the Poetry Society in England. He also had the role of chairman of the editorial board of Poetry Review, a quarterly publication organized by the Poetry Society in London.

It appears that Thomas and Bessie never did reunite after 1945. They remained in separate countries until they both died in 1974. Bessie died in June 1974 in Chicago, Illinois. Thomas died on 19 November 1974 in Colchester, Essex, England.


1891 England Census. Class: RG12; Piece: 2787; Folio: 55; Page: 4; GSU roll: 6097897

1901 England Census. Class: RG13; Piece: 3770; Folio: 178; Page: 6

1911 England Census. Class: RG14; Piece: 24209

1940 United States Federal Census. Census Place: Albuquerque, Bernalillo, New Mexico; Roll: T627_2438; Page: 21A; Enumeration District: 1-21

Albuquerque Journal 18 July 1940, p.6.

Anglican Parish Registers. Manchester, England: Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives. Reference Number: M550/1/1/1; Item Number: 2; Archive Roll: 578.

Electoral Registers. London, England: London Metropolitan Archives. Year: 1927. Ward or Division/Constituency: Hendon.

England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes (Marriage). Inferred County: Lancashire; Volume: 8d; Page: 667.

England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes (Death). Registration district: Colchester; Inferred County: Essex; Volume: 9; Page: 2090.

Naturalization Declarations and Petitions, 1912 - 1963; NAI Number: 1055070; Record Group Title: New Mexico, Santa Fe County, naturalization records; Record Group Number: RG 21

Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897. Year: 1939; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 6341; Line: 5; Page Number: 22

Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England. Registry: London, England; Death 19 November 1974; Probate date 13 January 1975.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, City Directory, 1947, p. 197

Social Security Death Index, Master File. Number: 524-30-6946; Issue State: Colorado; Issue Date: Before 1951.

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