Lorna Moon

(Helen Low)

1886 - 1930

Authoress and Holywood screen-writer. Born Helen Low in Strichen (Aberdeenshire), the daughter of a well-read plasterer and firebrand socialist, Moon received a modest education but was determined to better herself through reading and night-classes and escape from the drudgery of rural life. In 1907 she met a commercial traveller, secretly married him in Aberdeen and left Scotland for Canada soon after. In 1913, she left her husband and took up with a Walter Moon, moving to the USA four years later. Moon had three children by three different men; the first by her husband William Hebditch, born in 1908 and the second by Walter Moon in 1914. By 1921 she was in Holywood working for Cecil B. DeMille. The book My Secret Mother (1998) revealed Moon was the mother of psychologist and author Richard de Mille, adopted by the film director, but actually the son of his elder brother William C. deMille.

Moon wrote in the era of silent movies, with credits including The Affairs of Anatol (1921), Don't Tell Everything (1921) and Her Husband's Trademark (1922), all starring Gloria Swanson, Too Much Wife (1922), Upstage (1926), After Midnight (1927), Women Love Diamonds (1927), featuring Lionel Barrymore and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Mr. Wu (1927), with Lon Chaney, and Love (1927), based on Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and starring Greta Garbo. Her literary works include a collection of short stories, Doorways in Drumorty (1925), and the acclaimed novel Dark Star (1929), which was adapted for film as Min and Bill (1930). Moon was paid $7500 for the film rights for this novel, which draws on scenes from Strichen and the nearby fishing villages of Broadsea, Gardenstown, Pennan and Rosehearty. Her books were rediscovered in the early 1980s and her Collected Works were published in 2002.

Moon died from tuberculosis in a sanatorium in Albuquerque (New Mexico), but her ashes were returned to Scotland and scattered on Mormond Hill near Strichen.

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