Thursday, May 23, 2019

Champion of Creativity

Margaret Wise Brown

While Margaret Wise Brown is best known for writing such children's books as Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, her own story is fascinating. So much so, that I'm featuring her as a Champion of Creativity on her 109th birthday.

Margaret was born on May 23, 1910 in Brooklyn, New York, to Robert and Maude Brown. She attended boarding school in Switzerland and later studied at Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia, where she graduated with a B.A. in English in 1932. Soon thereafter, she went to work as a teacher at the Bank Street Experimental School in New York City, and then went to work as an editor at the publishing house of William R. Scott. It was while working there that she began to write books for children. In 1937 her first book - When the Wind Blew - was published. Years later, she left that position and devoted the rest of her life to writing over one hundred books for children. (She also wrote verse and lyrics for songs reproduced on children's records.)

In researching the life of this talented woman, I learned that her life was complicated; she had relationships with both men and women, and went by the nicknames of Tim, Brownie, and Goldie. Margaret  was curious, imaginative, and loved adventures. It was while on one of her many adventures, this one a book tour in France, that she required unexpected surgery for an ovarian cyst. Unfortunately, complications ensued, and she died of an embolism on November 13, 1952 in Nice, France. Margaret was just forty-two at the time of her death.

In her short, but illustrious life, she was a prolific writer and an influential editor of children's books. While at the Scott publishing house she attempted to recruit contemporary authors of the time to write books for children. Only Gertrude Stein accepted. Ms. Stein penned The World is Round which was illustrated by Clement Hurd. That association proved important in Margaret's life: Hurd later became the illustrator for both Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny - copies of those books alone have sold millions.

Margaret lived only long enough to write children's books for fifteen years. Yet, she is one of the most prolific authors ever. It's a reminder to be purposeful about what you do and how you spend your time. Obviously, Margaret Wise Brown loved writing stories for children.

While Margaret's studio, Cobble Court, was in Manhattan, the only house she ever owned was in Vinalhaven, Maine - thus, the name.

The Only House on an island off the coast of Maine

No comments:

Post a Comment