Maurice Bernard Sendak (born June 10, 1928, in Brooklyn, New York) is an American writer and illustrator of children's literature who is best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, published in 1963. An elementary school (from kindergarten to grade five) in North Hollywood, California, is named in his honor.
Sendak was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish-Jewish immigrant parents, and decided to become an illustrator after viewing Walt Disney's film Fantasia at the age of twelve. His illustrations were first published in 1947 in a textbook titled Atomics for the Millions by Dr. Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff. He spent much of the 1950s working as an artist for children's books, before beginning to write his own stories.
Sendak gained international acclaim after writing and illustrating Where the Wild Things Are,
though the book's depictions of fanged monsters concerned some parents when it was first released, as his characters were somewhat grotesque
in appearance. Sendak's seeming attraction to the forbidden or nightmarish aspects of children's fantasy have made him a subject of controversy. Before Where the Wild Things Are
, Sendak was best known for illustrating Else Holmelund Minarik
's Little Bear
series of books.
His book In the Night Kitchen, first published in 1970, has often been subjected to censorship for its drawings of a young boy prancing naked through the story. The book has been challenged, and in some instances banned, in several American states including Illinois, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Texas.
In the Night Kitchen regularly appears on the American Library Association's list of "frequently challenged and banned books." It was listed number 25 on the "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000.
Sendak was an early member of the National Board of Advisors of the Children's Television Workshop during the development stages of the television series Sesame Street. He also wrote and designed an animated sequence for the series, Bumble Ardy, based on his own book, and with Jim Henson as the voice of Bumble Ardy.
Sendak produced an animated television production based on his work titled Really Rosie, featuring Carole King, which was broadcast in 1975 and is available on video (usually as part of video compilations of his work). An album of the songs were also produced. He contributed the opening segment to Simple Gifts, a Christmas collection of six animated shorts shown on PBS TV in 1977 and later issued on VHS in 1993. He adapted his book Where the Wild Things Are for the stage in 1979. Additionally, he has designed sets for many operas and ballets, including the award-winning (1983) Pacific Northwest Ballet production of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker , Houston Grand Opera's productions of Mozart's The Magic Flute (1981) and Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel (1997), Los Angeles County Music Center's 1990 production of Mozart's Idomeneo, and the New York City Opera's 1981 production of The Cunning Little Vixen.
In the 1990s, Sendak approached playwright Tony Kushner to write a new English version of the Czech composer Hans Krása's children's opera Brundibar. Kushner wrote the text for Sendak's illustrated book of the same name, published in 2003. The book was named one of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Illustrated Books of that year.
In 2003, Chicago Opera Theatre produced Sendak and Kushner's adaptation of Brundibar. In 2005 Berkeley Repertory Theatre, in collaboration with Yale Repertory Theater and Broadway's New Victory Theater, produced a substantially reworked version of the Sendak-Kushner adaptation.
He also created the children's television program Seven Little Monsters.
Sendak mentioned in a September, 2008 article in The New York Times
that he is gay
, and had been living with his partner Eugene Glynn, a psychoanalyst
since 1957 (50 years), prior to Dr. Glynn’s death in May 2007. Revealing that he never told his parents, he said, "All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy. They never, never, never knew." Sendak's relationship with Glynn had been mentioned by other writers before (e.g., by Tony Kushner
in 2003) but his sexuality wasn't widely known before the New York Times article.
The Maurice Sendak Collection at The Rosenbach Museum & Library
Maurice Sendak chose the Rosenbach Museum & Library
in Philadelphia, PA to be the repository for his work in the early 1970s thanks to shared literary and collecting interests. His collection of nearly 10,000 works of art, manuscripts, books and ephemera, has been the subject of many exhibitions at the Rosenbach and has been enjoyed by visitors of all ages. Sendak once praised Herman Melville
’s writings, saying, “There’s a mystery there, a clue, a nut, a bolt, and if I put it together, I find me.” From May 6, 2008, through May 3, 2009, the Rosenbach will present There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak
. This major retrospective of over 130 pieces pulled from the museum’s vast Sendak collection—the biggest collection of Sendakiana in the world—is the largest and most ambitious exhibition of Sendak’s work ever created and will feature original artwork, rare sketches, never-before-seen working materials, and exclusive interview footage. The exhibition will draw on a total of over 300 objects, with new works on display every four months, providing a unique experience with each set of illustrations.
Exhibition highlights include the following:
- Original color artwork from books such as Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, The Nutshell Library, Outside Over There, and Brundibar.
- “Dummy” books filled with lively preliminary sketches for titles like The Sign on Rosie’s Door, Pierre, and Higglety, Pigglety, Pop!
- Never-before-seen working materials, such as newspaper clippings that inspired Sendak, family portraits, photographs of child models and other ephemera.
- Rare sketches for unpublished editions of stories such as Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, and other illustrating projects.
- Unique materials from the Rosenbach collection that relate to Sendak’s work, including an 1853 edition of the tales of the Brothers Grimm, sketches by William Blake, and Herman Melville’s bookcase.
- Stories told by the master illustrator himself on topics like Alice in Wonderland, his struggle to illustrate his favorite novels, hilarious stories of Brooklyn, and the way his work helps him exorcise childhood traumas.
Where the Wild Things Are
won the 1964 Caldecott Medal
. In 1970 he won the Hans Christian Andersen Award
for children's book illustration, and in 2003 he shared the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
with Christine Nöstlinger
, the first time it was awarded.
A live-action feature-length film
of Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are
is planned for 2009, to be directed by Spike Jonze
and a screenplay by Dave Eggers
, Michael Goldenberg
and Spike Jonze
- Kenny's Window (1956)
- Very Far Away (1957)
- The Sign On Rosie's Door (1960)
- The Nutshell Library (1962)
- Chicken Soup with Rice (A Book of Months)
- Alligators All Around (An Alphabet)
- One Was Johnny (A Counting Book)
- Pierre (A Cautionary Tale)
- Where the Wild Things Are (1963)
- In the Night Kitchen (1970)
- Ten Little Rabbits: A Counting Book With Mino The Magician (1970)
- Some Swell Pup or Are You Sure You Want a Dog? (written by Maurice Sendak & Matthew Margolis and illustrated by Maurice Sendak) (1976)
- ''Seven Little Monsters' (1977)
- Higglety Pigglety Pop!, Or: There Must be More to Life (1967) ISBN 0-06-028479-X
- Fantasy Sketches (1981)
- Outside Over There (1985)
- We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy: Two Nursery Rhymes with Pictures (Harper Collins) (1983)
- Singing Family of the Cumberlands (written by Jean Ritchie)
- Maurice Sendak's Christmas Mystery (1995) (a box with a Book and a Jigsaw Puzzle)
- Hector Protector and As I Went Over the Water: Two Nursery Rhymes
- Caldecott and Co: Notes on Books and Pictures (1990)
- Mommy? (Maurice Sendak's first Pop-up book) (2006) ISBN 0-439-88050-5
Partial bibliography as illustrator
- Atomics for the Millions (by Dr. Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff) (1947)
- The Wonderful Farm (by Marcel Aymé) (1951)
- Good Shabbos Everybody (by Robert Garvey) (1951)
- A Hole is to Dig (written by Ruth Krauss) (1952)
- A Very Special House (written by Ruth Krauss) (1953)
- The Tin Fiddle (written by Edward Tripp) (1954)
- The Wheel On the School (written by Meindert DeJong) (1954)
- Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm (written by Betty MacDonald) (1954)
- Little Cow & the Turtle (written by Meindert DeJong) (1955)
- What Can You Do With A Shoe? (written by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers) (1955 recolored in 1997)
- Seven Little Stories on Big Subjects (written by Gladys Baker Bond) (1955)
- I Want to Paint My Bathroom Blue (written by Ruth Krauss) (1956)
- The Birthday Party (by Ruth Krauss) (1957)
- Little Bear, written by Else Holmelund Minarik and illustrated by Maurice Sendak (there was also a TV series based on this series of books)
- Little Bear (1957)
- Father Bear Comes Home (1959)
- Little Bear's Friend (1960)
- Little Bear's Visit (1961)
- A Kiss for Little Bear (1968)
- Along Came A Dog (by Meindert DeJong) (1958)
- No Fighting, No Biting! (written by Else Holmelund Minarik)(1958)
- What Do You Say, Dear? (written by Sesyle Joslin) (1958)
- Seven Tales by H. C. Anderson (translated by Eva Le Gallienne) (1959)
- The Moon Jumpers (text by Janice May Udry)(1959)
- Open House For Butterflies (by Ruth Krauss) (1960)
- Best in Children's Books: Volume 31 (various authors and illustrators: featuring, Windy Wash Day and Other Poems by Dorothy Aldis with illustrations by Maurice Sendak) (1960)
- Best in Children's Books: Volume 35 (various authors and illustrators: featuring, Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams with illustrations by Maurice Sendak) (1960)
- Best in Children's Books: Volume 41 (various authors and illustrators: featuring, What the Good-Man Does Is Always Right by Hans Christian Andersen with illustrations by Maurice Sendak) (1961)
- What Do You Do, Dear? (written by Sesyle Joslin) (1961)
- The Big Green Book (written by Robert Graves) (1962)
- Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (written by Charlotte Zolotow) (1962)
- The Singing Hill (Written by Meindert DeJong) (1962) (Harper Row)
- Dwarf Long-Nose (by Wilhelm Hauff, translated by Doris Orgel) (1963)
- The Griffin and the Minor Canon (by Frank R. Stockton) (1963)
- How Little Lori Visited Times Square (by Amos Vogel) (1963)
- She Loves Me...She Loves Me Not... (written by Robert Keeshan AKA Captain Kangaroo) (1963)
- McCall's: August 1964; VOL XCI, No 11 (featuring The Young Crane by Andrejs Upits and Illustrated by Maurice Sendak)
- The Bee-Man of Orn (by Frank R. Stockton) (1964)
- The Animal Family (by Randall Jarrell) (1965)
- Lullabyes and Night Songs (by Alec Wilder and edited by William Engvick (1965)
- Zlateh The Goat (written by Isaac Bashevis Singer) (1966)
- The Bat-Poet (by Randall Jarrell) (1966)
- A House of Sixty Fathers (written by Meindert De Jong (1966)
- The Saturday Evening Post: May 4, 1968; 241st year, issue no. 9 (features Yash The Chimney Sweep by Isaac Bashevis Singer and is illustrated by Maurice Sendak)
- Happy Hanukah Everybody (written by Hyman Chanover & Alice Chanover) (1969)
- Hurry Home Candy (written by Meindert DeJong) (1971)
- I'll Be you and You be Me (written by Ruth Krauss) (1973)
- The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm: Volumes 1 & 2 (Translated by Lore Segal with four tales translated by Randall Jarrell) (1973 both volumes)
- King Grisly-Beard (by Brothers Grimm) (1973)
- Pleasant Fieldmouse (by Jan Wahl) (1975)
- Charlotte and the White Horse (by Ruth Krauss) (1955)
- Fly by Night (by Randall Jarrell) (1976)
- The Light Princess (by George MacDonald) (1977)
- Shadrach (by Meindert Dejong) (1977)
- Nutcracker (written by E.T.A. Hoffmann) (1984)
- The Love For Three Oranges (The Glyndebourne Version written by Frank Corsaro based on L'Amour des Trois Oranges (by Serge Prokofiev) (1984)
- Circus Girl (by Jack Sendak) (1985)
- In Grandpa's House (by Philip Sendak) (1985)
- The Cunning Little Vixen (by Rudolf Tesnohlidek) (1985)
- Dear Mili (written by Wilhelm Grimm) (1988)
- Sing a Song of Popcorn (by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers with various illustrators including Maurice Sendak) (1988)
- The Big Book for Peace (by various authors and illustrators, cover also by Maurice Sendak) (1990)
- I Saw Esau (edited by Iona Opie and Peter Opie) (1992)
- The Golden Key (by George MacDonald) (1992) ISBN 0-374-42590-6
- The Miami Giant (written by Arthur Yorinks) (1995)
- Frank and Joey Go to Work (by Arthur Yorinks also has additional illustrations by Ky Chung (1996)
- Penthesilea (written by Heinrich von Kleist and Translated and Introduced by Joel Agee) (1998)
- Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom (by Ursula Nordstrom - Author, Leonard S. Marcus - Editor) ISBN 0-060-23625-6
- Swine Lake (written by James Marshall) (1999)
- Brundibar (written by Tony Kushner) (2003)
- Sarah's Room (written by Doris Orgel) (2003)
- The Happy Rain (written by Jack Sendak) (2004)
- Bears! (by Ruth Krauss) (2005)