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Sendak, Maurice (1928-2012)  
 
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Sendak invited playwright Tony Kushner to join him in creating an English adaptation of Hans Krása's Brundibár, a children's opera in Czech. Their work was first produced in 2003, and in the same year they published the story as a picture book, with text by Kushner and illustrations by Sendak.

Sendak was the recipient of numerous honors, beginning with the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award, which he won for the first of eighteen times in 1952. He won both the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award and the Caldecott Medal in 1964, and the Hans Christian Andersen International Medal in 1970. President Bill Clinton awarded him the National Medal of the Arts in 1996, and the Swedish government honored him with the Astrid Lindgren Award for Literature in 2003.

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In a 2008 interview with the New York Times, Sendak, the subject of innumerable stories in the press of decades, responded to a query about what question he had never been asked with a pause and then the seemingly simple answer, "Well, that I'm gay."

Sendak went on to note "that the idea of a gay man writing children's books would have hurt his career" when he was starting out. Indeed, given the social tenor of the times, it might well have prevented it.

Sendak never came out to his parents. "All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy. They never, never, never knew," he said.

While attempting to safeguard his parents' happiness, however, Sendak found his own with Dr. Eugene Glynn, a psychiatrist, author, and art critic. The couple had a loving and committed relationship of fifty years that ended only with Glynn's death on May 15, 2007.

Sendak was feted at a belated eightieth birthday party in New York on September 15, 2008, which council Speaker Christine Quinn proclaimed Maurice Sendak Day in the city. In attendance were such luminaries as Meryl Streep, Judy Blume, Kushner, and director Spike Jonze, who at the time was filming a live-action version of Where the Wild Things Are.

The film of Where the Wild Things Are was released in the fall of 2009 to immediate commercial success. Sendak said that he had supported Jonze's vision for the film.

"I advised him to make more mischief, and he made more than most. In plain terms, a child is a complicated creature who can drive you crazy. There's a cruelty to childhood, there's an anger. And I did not want to reduce Max to the trite image of the good little boy that you find in too many books," commented Sendak.

The release of the film brought some comfort to Sendak, who had recently been bereaved not only of his partner but also of his brother and sister. "I will never get over their loss. I don't want to get over their loss," he stated but added, "I'm coming back to life and the movie of 'Wild Things' and everything is life-enhancing."

Sendak also used the occasion of the release of the film to announce that he has two new books in progress.

In 2011, he published Bumble-Ardy, the first picture book in 30 years for which he produced both text and illustrations.

Sendak died on May 8, 2012 due to complications from a stroke.

His final work is a poem that he wrote in memory of his brother, Jack, and also illustrated. My Brother's Book is to be published in February 2013.

Linda Rapp

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arts >> Overview:  Opera

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arts >> Overview:  Set and Costume Design

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    Bibliography
   

Cohen, Patricia. "Concerns Beyond Just Where the Wild Things Are." New York Times (September 10, 2008): E1.

Cushman, Jerome. "Exhilarating Works from New Artists and Writers." Los Angeles Times (December 5, 1976): R28.

Evans, Sara. "The Wide World of Sendak." Parents 67.11 (November 1992): 365-367.

Fox, Margalit. "Maurice Sendak, Author of Splendid Nightmares, Dies at 83." New York Times (May 8, 2012): http://www.nytimes/com/2012/05/09/books/maurice-sendak-childrens-author-dies-at-83.html.

Kushner, Tony. The Art of Maurice Sendak: 1980 to Present. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2003.

Lyall, Sarah. "Maurice Sendak Sheds Moonlight on a Dark Tale." New York Times (September 20, 1993): C13.

Sendak, Maurice. Caldecott & Co.: Notes on Books & Pictures. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1988.

"Sendak, Ever-untamed, Sees 'Wild Things' Adapted." San Jose Mercury News (October 18, 2009): Entertainment.

Stockwell, Anne. "Still Wild: The Glitterati Honor Maurice Sendak, the Literary World's Newest Out Icon." The Advocate 1018 (November 4, 2008): 13.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Sendak, Maurice  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2008  
    Date Last Updated May 8, 2012  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/sendak_m_arts.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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