Clement C. Moore was born and raised in a house near Chelsea Square in New York City where he eventually married and raised his own children.
The poem was printed anonymously and titled by the editor, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," for the December 23, 1823 publication. It's quite likely Dr. Moore was not aware the poem had been submitted, but it went viral (by 19th century standards) as more newspapers and magazines reprinted the poem.
With its rising popularity, others tried to claim authorship, but it wasn't until 1837, when Clement Clarke Moore admitted authoring the poem with its inclusion in the anthology, The New York Book of Poetry.
Still, there is controversy surrounding the authorship of this poem. Scholars such as Professor Donald Foster at Vassar College used "textual content analysis and external evidence" such as the statistical analysis of phonemes to argue that Moore couldn't have been the author. Dr. Foster believes that Major Henry Livingston, Jr. was the more likely author. Although scholars seem to have formed a consensus, the poem is usually attributed to Clement C. Moore.
Beyond the controversy, this much beloved poem has long been in the public domain, making it available for talented artists and filmmakers to transform it into new creative works, from children's picture books to movies.
A 1905 Film of The Night Before Christmas by Thomas Edison Studios:
I first discovered this charming (1905) silent movie version of The Night Before Christmas when I was hunting for poetry in the Prelinger Archives a few years ago. Finding this gem was truly an unexpected gift. I'm thrilled this sweet little film (8:44 min.) has been uploaded to YouTube, so more people can enjoy this fascinating peek into the Edwardian era.
A Visit From St. Nicholas by Clement C. Moore
('Twas the Night Before Christmas)
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."