After attending Bryn Mawr College, Marianne Moore moved with her mother to New York City in 1918. She worked tirelessly in her Greenwich Village apartment—writing poems, essays, letters, and editing the influential American literary journal The Dial -- while also employed as an assistant at the Hudson Branch of the New York Public Library. Moore was a fixture of the avant-garde New York City literary scene, a circle that included William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens. She was also a strong influence on many younger writers; when Sylvia Plath met her in 1955, she described Moore as "someone's fairy godmother incognito."

Shortly before her death, Moore sold all her literary and personal papers to the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia. She also added a bequest of her apartment furnishings to the Rosenbach in her will. The remarkable collection housed at the Rosenbach includes a reconstruction of Moore's living room from her Greenwich Village apartment on West Ninth Street. The room appears exactly as she left it in 1972 when she passed away, with its overflowing bookcases and velvet couches.

The Marianne Moore Collection at the Rosenbach Museum also includes nearly all of her manuscripts and papers, as well as family photographs, letters, artwork, and her clippings file with headers such as "plants" and "animals." Selections from her papers are always on display for museum visitors, while Moore scholars may make appointments to see additional papers.