Margaret Wise Brown

Last updated
Margaret Wise Brown
Margaret Wise Brown by Consuelo Kanaga, 82.65.1833 01.jpg
Margaret Wise Brown by Consuelo Kanaga Brooklyn Museum
BornMay 23, 1910
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedNovember 13, 1952(1952-11-13) (aged 42)
Nice, France
Pen nameTimothy Hay
Golden MacDonald
Juniper Sage (with Edith Thacher Hurd )
OccupationWriter, editor
NationalityAmerican
Education Dana Hall School, 1928
Alma mater Hollins College, 1932
Genre Children's literature
Notable works
Partner Blanche Oelrichs
James Stillman 'Pebble' Rockefeller Jr.

Margaret Wise Brown (May 23, 1910 – November 13, 1952) was an American writer of children's books, including Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny , both illustrated by Clement Hurd. She has been called "the laureate of the nursery" for her achievements. [1]

Contents

Life and career

Brown was born in Brooklyn, New York, the middle child of three of Maude Margaret (Johnson) and Robert Bruce Brown. [2] [3] She was the granddaughter of politician Benjamin Gratz Brown. Her parents suffered from an unhappy marriage. She was initially raised in Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood, and in 1923, attended Chateau Brilliantmont boarding school in Lausanne, Switzerland, [4] [5] while her parents were living in India and Canterbury, Connecticut. In 1925, she attended The Kew-Forest School. [6] She began attending Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in 1926, where she did well in athletics. After graduation in 1928, Brown went on to Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia.

Brown was a lifelong avid beagler and was noted for her ability to keep pace, on foot, with the hounds. [7]

Following her graduation with a B.A. in English [2] from Hollins in 1932, Brown worked as a teacher and also studied art. While working at the Bank Street Experimental School in New York City she started writing books for children. Bank Street promoted a new approach to children's education and literature, emphasizing the real world and the "here and now." [8] This philosophy influenced Brown's work; she was also inspired by the poet Gertrude Stein, whose literary style influenced Brown's own writing. [8]

Brown's first published children's book was When the Wind Blew, published in 1937 by Harper & Brothers. Impressed by Brown's "here and now" style, W. R. Scott hired her as his first editor in 1938. [9] Through Scott, she published the Noisy Book series among others. As editor at Scott, one of Brown's first projects was to recruit contemporary authors to write children's books for the company. Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck neglected to respond, but Brown's hero Gertrude Stein [8] accepted the offer. Stein's book The World is Round [10] was illustrated by Clement Hurd, who had previously teamed with Brown on W. R. Scott's Bumble Bugs and Elephants, considered "perhaps the first modern board book for babies." [11] Brown and Hurd later teamed on the children's book classics The Runaway Bunny and Goodnight Moon , published by Harper. In addition to publishing a number of Brown's books, under her editorship W. R. Scott published Edith Thacher Hurd's first book, Hurry Hurry, and Esphyr Slobodkina's classic Caps for Sale .

From 1944 to 1946, Doubleday published three picture books written by Brown under the pseudonym "Golden MacDonald" (coopted from her friend's handyman [7] ) and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. (Weisgard was a runner-up for the Caldecott Medal in 1946, and he won the 1947 Medal, for Little Lost Lamb and The Little Island . Two more of their collaborations appeared in 1953 and 1956, after Brown's death.)The Little Fisherman, illustrated by Dahlov Ipcar, was published in 1945. The Little Fur Family, illustrated by Garth Williams, was published in 1946. Early in the 1950s she wrote several books for the Little Golden Books series, including The Color Kittens , Mister Dog, and Scuppers The Sailor Dog.

Personal life and death

While at Hollins she was briefly engaged. [12] She dated, for some time, an unknown "good, quiet man from Virginia", [13] had a long-running affair with William Gaston, [14] [15] and had a summer romance with Preston Schoyer. [16] In the summer of 1940 Brown began a long-term relationship with Blanche Oelrichs (nom de plume Michael Strange), poet/playwright, actress, and the former wife of John Barrymore. The relationship, which began as a mentoring one, eventually became romantic, and included co-habiting at 10 Gracie Square in Manhattan beginning in 1943. [17] As a studio, they used Cobble Court, a wooden house later moved to Charles Street. Oelrichs, who was 20 years Brown's senior, died in 1950.

Brown went by various nicknames in different circles of friends. To her Dana School and Hollins friends she was "Tim", as her hair was the color of timothy hay. [18] To Bank Street friends she was "Brownie". [19] To William Gaston she was "Goldie", in keeping with the use of Golden MacDonald as author of The Little Island. [15]

In 1952, Brown met James Stillman 'Pebble' Rockefeller Jr. at a party, and they became engaged. Later that year, while on a book tour in Nice, France, she died at 42 of an embolism, shortly after surgery for an ovarian cyst. Kicking up her leg to show her nurses how well she was feeling caused a blood clot that had formed in her leg to dislodge and travel to her heart. [20]

By the time of Brown's death, she had authored well over one hundred books. Her ashes were scattered at her island home, "The Only House", in Vinalhaven, Maine. [20]

Legacy

Brown bequeathed the royalties to many of her books including Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny to Albert Clarke, the son of a neighbor who was nine years old when she died. In 2000, reporter Joshua Prager detailed in The Wall Street Journal the troubled life of Mr. Clarke, who has squandered the millions of dollars the books have earned him and who believes that Brown was his mother, a claim others dismiss. [21]

Brown left behind over 70 unpublished manuscripts. After unsuccessfully trying to sell them, her sister Roberta Brown Rauch kept them in a cedar trunk for decades. In 1991, her future biographer Amy Gary of WaterMark Inc., rediscovered the paper-clipped bundles, more than 500 typewritten pages in all, and set about getting the stories published. [22]

Many of Brown's books have been re-issued with new illustrations decades after their original publication. Many more of her books are still in print with the original illustrations. Her books have been translated into several languages; biographies on Brown for children have been written by Leonard S. Marcus (Harper Paperbacks, 1999), Jill C. Wheeler (Checkerboard Books, 2006) and Amy Gary (Flatiron Books, 2017). [23] There is a Freudian analysis of her "classic series" of bunny books by Claudia H. Pearson, Have a Carrot (Look Again Press, 2010). [24]

A fictional version of Brown occurs in Sarah Jio's 2014 novel Goodnight June. In the book a series of letters between Brown and the character Ruby Crain are used to show how Crain's friendship with Brown and her Seattle, Washington bookstore were influential in the writing of Goodnight Moon .

Selected works

Big Red Barn (reissue), illustrated by Felicia Bond Big Red Barn, illustrated by Felicia Bond, children's book illustrator.jpeg
Big Red Barn (reissue), illustrated by Felicia Bond

During her lifetime, Brown essentially had four publishers: Harper & Brothers, W. R. Scott, Doubleday, and Little Golden Books. The books written for Doubleday were published under the pseudonym "Golden MacDonald". All were unpaged picture books illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. Two appeared after her death.

Published posthumously


‡ Published as by "Golden MacDonald."

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Goodnight Moon</i> American childrens picture book, 1947

Goodnight Moon is an American children's book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. It was published on September 3, 1947, and is a highly acclaimed bedtime story. It features a bunny saying "good night" to everything around: "Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light, and the red balloon ...".

Little Golden Books childrens book series

Little Golden Books is a popular series of children's books, founded in 1942. The eighth book in the series, The Poky Little Puppy, is the top-selling children's book of all time. Many of the Little Golden Books have become bestsellers, including The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, Scuffy the Tugboat, and The Little Red Hen. Several of the illustrators for the Little Golden Books later became influential within the children's book industry, including Corinne Malvern, Tibor Gergely, Gustaf Tenggren, Feodor Rojankovsky, Richard Scarry, Eloise Wilkin, and Garth Williams.

Garth Williams American childrens book illustrator

Garth Montgomery Williams was an American artist who came to prominence in the American postwar era as an illustrator of children's books. Many of the books he illustrated have become classics of American children's literature.

In Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web, and in the Little House series of books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Williams['s] drawings have become inseparable from how we think of those stories. In that respect ... Williams['s] work belongs in the same class as Sir John Tenniel's drawings for Alice in Wonderland, or Ernest Shepard's illustrations for Winnie the Pooh.

Margaret Cecile "Peggy" Parish was an American writer known best for the children's book series and fictional character Amelia Bedelia. Parish was born in Manning, South Carolina to a poor family, attended the University of South Carolina, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She worked as a teacher in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and in New York. She taught at the Dalton School in Manhattan for 15 years and published her first children's book while teaching third grade there. She authored over 30 books, which had sold 7 million copies at the time of her death.

Clement Hurd American childrens book illustrator

Clement G. Hurd was an American artist. He is known for illustrations of children's picture books, especially collaborations with writer Margaret Wise Brown including Goodnight Moon (1947) and The Runaway Bunny (1942).

John Thacher Hurd is an American artist and the creator of children's picture books including Mama Don't Allow and Art Dog.

Rosemary Wells is an American writer and illustrator of children's books. She is well known for the Max & Ruby series, which follows the everyday adventures of sibling bunnies, curious three-year-old Max and bossy seven-year-old Ruby. Wells has also written Noisy Nora (1973), Yoko (1998), the Voyage to the Bunny Planet series, a Christmas book called Morris's Disappearing Bag (1975) and a collected book of illustrations of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs. She has also published Red Moon at Sharpsburg (2007), a historical novel featuring a young girl in the American Civil War. Otto Runs For President and Yoko Writes Her Name were published in 2008.

Alice Rose Provensen and Martin Provensen were an American couple who illustrated more than 40 children's books together, 19 of which they also wrote and edited. According to Alice, "we were a true collaboration. Martin and I really were one artist."

Leonard Joseph Weisgard was an American writer and illustrator of more than 200 children's books. He is known best for his collaborations with writer Margaret Wise Brown.

Esphyr Slobodkina Russian American artist, childrens illustrator and writer

Esphyr Slobodkina was a Russian-American artist, author, and illustrator, best known for her classic children's picture book Caps for Sale. Slobodkina was a celebrated avant garde artist and feminist in the middle part of the 20th century.

<i>The Runaway Bunny</i> American childrens picture book, 1942

The Runaway Bunny is a 1942 picture book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. The plot deals with a small rabbit, who wants to run away. His mother, however, tells him that "if you run away, I will run after you."

<i>The Little Island</i> (book) book by Margaret Wise Brown

The Little Island is a book by Margaret Wise Brown under the pseudonym Golden MacDonald and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. Released by Doubleday in 1946, it was the recipient of the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 1947. It describes the four seasons as experienced by a little island. The book is lyrically written, an example being: "Winter came/ and the snow fell softly/ like a great quiet secret in the night/ cold and still."

Ursula Nordstrom was publisher and editor-in-chief of juvenile books at Harper & Row from 1940 to 1973. She is credited with presiding over a transformation in children's literature in which morality tales written for adult approval gave way to works that instead appealed to children's imaginations and emotions.

The Indies Choice Book Award is an American literary award that was inaugurated at BookExpo America 2000. The American Booksellers Association (ABA) rededicated the award in recognition of a new era in bookselling, as well as the important role the Book Sense Picks List has played for independent booksellers in discovering and spreading the word about books of quality to all stores, and readers, nationwide. Throughout the year, Book Sense independent booksellers from across the country nominate for inclusion in the monthly Book Sense Picks the books that they most enjoyed hand-selling to their customers. The books on each list represent a combined national and local staff pick selection of booksellers' favorites from more than 1,200 independent bookstores with Book Sense.

<i>Little Fur Family</i> book by Margaret Wise Brown

Little Fur Family is a 1946 picture book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Garth Williams. It tells the story of a little fur child's day in the woods. The day ends when his big fur parents tuck him in bed "all soft and warm," and sing him to sleep with a bedtime song.

The Northeast Children's Literature Collection (NCLC) is housed at Archives & Special Collections at the University of Connecticut. The purpose of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection is to preserve the history of the creation of our best literature written for children. Emphasis is given to the perception of children’s literature as a form of art over other educational or social intentions. Archives are collected to document the process of children’s book creation by authors and illustrators in collaboration with agents, editors, designers and publishers.

Edith Thacher Hurd was an American writer of children's books. She published 70 books in her lifetime, fifty of them illustrated by her husband, Clement Hurd.

Leonard S. Marcus is an American author and expert on English language children's literature. Marcus has been a critic for several publications including Horn Book and the New York

<i>My World</i> (book) book by Margaret Wise Brown

My World is an American children's picture book written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd. The third book in Brown and Hurd's "classic series", it is the "companion" to Brown & Hurd's Goodnight Moon. My World was published in December 1949.

W. R. Scott was a pioneering children's literature publisher based in New York City that specialized in visually striking books with a contemporary educational philosophy. W. R. Scott's first editor was Margaret Wise Brown; the company also published a number of her books.

References

Notes

  1. Horning, Kathleen T. (2010). From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children's Books (revised ed.). New York: Collins. p. 88. ISBN   9780060777562.
  2. 1 2 "Margaret Wise Brown". de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. University of Southern Mississippi. June 2003. Retrieved 2013-06-25. With Biographical Sketch.
  3. Marcus 20-21.
  4. Mainiero, 254.
  5. Marcus, 21
  6. 1 2 Gary, Amy (2016). The Great Green Room: The Brilliant Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown. Flatiron Books. p. 139. ISBN   978-1-25006536-0.
  7. 1 2 3 Fernando, Anne E. "IN THE GREAT GREEN ROOM: MARGARET WISE BROWN AND MODERNISM," Public Books (November 17, 2015). Accessed May 2, 2016.
  8. DISCOVERING THE UNEXPECTED: THE MARGARET WISE BROWN COLLECTION AT WYNDHAM ROBERTSON LIBRARY, HOLLINS UNIVERSITY BY BETH S. HARRIS https://ejournals.lib.vt.edu/valib/article/view/1138/1475#n4
  9. Popova, Maria. "7 (More) Obscure Children’s Books by Famous “Adult” Lit Authors," BrainPickings (July 25, 2011).
  10. Leonard S. Marcus (1997). "Meet Clement Hurd". Enter the World of Margaret Wise Brown. HarperCollins Children's. Retrieved 2014-10-01. Apparently citing Marcus's book, Dear Genius, The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom.
  11. Marcus, 32.
  12. Marcus, 77.
  13. Marcus, 97–98, 114, 136.
  14. 1 2 Gaston, 152.
  15. Marcus, 147–48.
  16. Marcus, pp. 167–78, 251.
  17. Marcus, 23.
  18. Marcus, 62.
  19. 1 2 "Biography of Margaret Wise Brown" (Long Bio)". Margaret Wise Brown: writer of songs and nonsense. Margaretwisebrown.com. Archived from the original on 2001-04-12. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  20. Prager, Joshua. "Runaway Money: A Children's Classic, A 9-Year-Old-Boy And a Fateful Bequest – For Albert Clarke, the Rise Of 'Goodnight Moon' Is No Storybook Romance – Broken Homes, Broken Noses". The Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2000. Retrieved 2016-03-21.
  21. "Pop Culture News: A Trunkful of Treasures: Margaret Wise Brown's Manuscripts". Entertainment Weekly #88 (Oct. 18, 1991). Retrieved 2008-11-23.
  22. "Never Grow Up: The wild, jubilant life of Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon". The Slate Book review. Retrieved 14 Jan 2017.
  23. Have a Carrot: Oedipal Theory and Symbolism in Margaret Wise Brown's Runaway Bunny Trilogy. Birmingham, AL: Look Again Press. 2010. ISBN   978-1-4524-5500-6.

Bibliography