Descent into Limbo
Maurice Sendak, Author and Illustrator
Description: In this riveting and emotionally charged talk, Sendak provides a retrospective on the struggles of his early career as an artist, describing the "great giant ladies versus the suits" of the publishing establishment, discusses the symptoms of depression as they correlate to the creative process, and tells an amazing story of his search for Rosie. On the cusp of his 75th birthday, Sendak describes his life as one "obsessed with childhood," and concludes, "over the years everything in my creative life has gradually been strengthened and newly passioned".
About the Speaker(s): Text from the Lecture Program) Maurice Sendak was born in the United States in 1928 of parents who had emigrated from Jewish shtetls in Poland. Drawn at an early age to the bright face of popular culture, especially the Mickey Mouse cartoons, Sendak apprenticed on the streets of Brooklyn. From his windows he watched and sketched children at play, intrigued by the ways children imaginatively examine their humble place in a dangerous and mysterious world. Ten-year-old Rosie, a wild, imaginative child he watched and sketched from his window during the Second World War years, became his muse and the prototype of all his book characters. While best known for his award-winning trilogy of picture books, Where the Wild Things Are (1963), In the Night Kitchen (1971) and Outside Over There (1982), Sendak had already caught the attention of canny professionals and booklovers with his illustrations for A Hole Is to Dig (1952) by Ruth Krauss; and with Little Bear (1957) by Else Holmelund Minarik. In 1970 Maurice Sendak was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for his body of work, the first American to be so honored. He received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1983, and in 1997 President Clinton presented Maurice Sendak with a National Medal for the Arts.
Host(s): Office of the President, Office of Government and Community Relations
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