Maurice Sendak: Dead at 83, the beloved writer who showed children where the wild things were
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Wednesday 09 May 2012
Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, one of the most influential and best-loved children's books of the past 50 years, has died at the age of 83. The writer and illustrator, whose books entranced generations of children, died at a hospital close to his home in Connecticut. He had suffered complications after having a stroke on Friday.
Where the Wild Things Are, which has sold close to 20 million copies, caused controversy at the time of its release in 1963 because of its dark tone, but it also inspired thousands of fans, many of whom wrote to Sendak in correspondence he treasured.
Philip Nel, children's literature expert and professor of English at Kansas State University, called Sendak "the best of his generation". "He's the best artist-for-children of the 20th century – a century that has brought us the astonishing, transformative work of Dr Seuss, Beatrix Potter and Chris Van Allsburg," he said. "Sendak was a giant among giants. And still is."
Sendak was born in Brooklyn in 1928 to Polish immigrant parents. The dark nature of his work can be traced back to his own childhood, when he tried to come to terms with the news of relatives who died in the Holocaust. He was also deeply affected by the kidnapping of the son of Charles Lindbergh in 1932.
Sendak was a sickly child, and his love of books developed from bouts confined to his bed, while his love of drawing stretched back even earlier. At the age of 20, he secured a job working on window displays for the US toy store FAO Schwarz, then he landed a commission to illustrate a book, which led to more work. Kenny's Window in 1956 was the first he wrote and illustrated himself.
The publication of Where the Wild Things Are brought him wider attention. Despite the controversy, the American Library Association awarded him the Caldecott Medal for best book of the year. In his acceptance speech he said: "From their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions. Fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis." He later told an interviewer that Disney was "terrible" for children.
Where the Wild Things Are, which relays the raucous imaginings of a lonely boy called Max, was adapted into a film in 2009 by the director Spike Jonze and the author Dave Eggers.
Sendak wrote and illustrated many other titles throughout his career. His last picture book was Bumble-Ardy, published in 2011.
Tony Kushner, a US playwright who wrote Angels in America, said Sendak was "one of the most important, if not the most important, writers and artists ever to work in children's literature".
From the blogs
There is a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refle...
The opening titles squeal ‘Never Can Say Goodbye…’. Oh Lord how I wish I could heave this series off...
The main course on most beer matching menus tends to be meat. Not just any meat, pork. And I’m not t...
Norman Tebbit is not the first Tory peer to raise the hypothetical possibility of an heir to the thr...
Jeremy Paxman reveals he has heard senior Tories calling activists 'swivel-eyed loons'
Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
Strewth mate. Aussies wave goodbye to Britain as it becomes too pricey to stay
X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
Oklahoma tornado latest: Obama pledges support for 'as long as it takes' to rebuild the suburb of Moore
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 3 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 4 X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history
- 5 'It was just like the movie Twister': Man survives Oklahoma tornado by taking refuge in horse stall
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£350 - £500 per day: Progressive Recruitment: Project Manager - Public Sector ...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...
Negotiable: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: HR Manager Independe...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Huxley Associates: INTERIM HR MANAGER - ...