Born: June 10, 1928, Brooklyn, New York, Died May 8, 2012
Marital Status: Partner to Dr. Eugene Glynn (1957-2007; his death)
Education: Art Students League
“Parents shouldn’t assume children are made out of sugar candy and will break and collapse instantly. Kids don’t. We do.”
Maurice Sendak is one of the few authors in the history of literature that has affected generations of readers. His masterpiece, Where the Wild Things Are, made an impression on the public that sill lasts today. While he is no longer with us, his influence and vision live within children today.
Sendak was born and raised in Brooklyn. Because he had poor health growing up, he was confined to bed at times. He turned to art to help ease the burden and pass the time. He proved to be a promising illustrator, and obtained a part-time job at All-American Comics.
However, Sendak’s first big break came when he met legendary children’s book editor Ursula Nordstrom when working on window displays for F.A.O. Schwartz. She got him his first job illustrating children’s books.
Sendak published Kenny’s Window in 1956, the first book he both wrote and illustrated. He would follow up his first effort with the game changing Where the Wild Things Are. The story of a boy visiting a land inhabited by fearsome and grotesque creatures enthralled readers around the world.
Before Where the Wild Things Are came out, children’s books were full of light, happy, colorful illustrations. Sendak’s illustrations were dark, moody, and complicated. The book’s main character, Max, wasn’t like other children’s books protagonists too. He wasn’t a good little boy all the time; he made mistakes and got on people’s nerves. He was human.
Later successful works by Sendak include In the Night Kitchen and Outside Over There. He would even collaborate with Carole King for the musical Really Rosie. He often designed sets and costumes for adaptations of his books. Unfortunately Sendak would die on May 8, 2012 from a stroke he suffered days earlier, but his influence lives on children’s literature.
Featured Image Courtesy of The Daily Beast