Maurice Sendak

“Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake” as one poet-translator put it, after Callimachus. In the midst of saying goodbye to some really good students, and “doing” the marking, and sorting staffing and timetables and the other stuff, I am suddenly saddened by the news of your death.

I remember my parents being asked whether they would let me read Where the Wild Things Are (I was 10!); I recall my delight at sharing it, and Little Bear, and Chicken Soup with Rice with my children; news of your coming out at 80 reached me a day or so before I was to present a paper on Outside Over There, my first external academic paper! I feel I have had your books as part of the scenery of my intellectual life for so long.  I hope you wouldn’t have found that metaphor unwieldy; you were so much of a dramatist, both directly involved in theatre and in creating alarming and joyful explorations of dreams, both terrors and pleasures.

Ah enough. Better obituaries than mine have said more, and your own work is the best tribute to your genius. The best epitaph that I’ve seen was a quotation from you in the Guardian:

You cannot write for children. They’re much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.

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