Lifestyle & Belief

Maurice Sendak, 'Where the Wild Things Are' author, dead at 83 (PHOTOS)


Maurice Sendak speaking with children on Jan. 11, 2002, before the opening of an exhibition entitled, 'Maurice Sendak In His Own Words and Pictures,' at the Children's Museum of Manhattan in New York.


Spencer Platt

Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are, died aged 83 on Tuesday, the New York Times reported.

Sendak suffered complications from a stroke, his editor, Michael di Capua, told the paper. He had the stroke on Friday, his friend Lynn Caponera, who was with him when he died, told the Associated Press.

He passed away in hospital in Danbury, Connecticut, near where he lived.

Sendak, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, wrote some 20 books and illustrated dozens more.

In addition to Where the Wild Things Are (first published in 1963), some of his best-loved stories included Chicken Soup with Rice (1962), Higglety Pigglety Pop!, Or: There Must Be More to Life (1967) and In the Night Kitchen (1970). 

Sendak's willful, naughty characters and surreal, even scary, illustrations "upended the staid, centuries-old tradition of American children's literature," the Times said. According to the BBC, he traced his "raw and honest artistic style" back to his Jewish-Polish family's experience of World War II and the Holocaust.

As well as multiple children's prizes, including the prestigious Caldecott Medal, Sendak was awarded a National Medal of Arts in 1996 for his contribution to American literature.

"I don't write for children," he told Stephen Colbert in one of his final interviews, in January (video below). "I write. And somebody says, 'That's for children.' I don't set out to make children happy, or make life better for them, or easier for them. [...]

"I like them as few and as far between as I like adults – maybe a bit more, because I really don't like adults, at all."

Sendak's final work, titled My Brother's Book, will be published posthumously in February 2013, according to the Times. It is described as a poem inspired by his late brother.

Watch Sendak in conversation with Stephen Colbert, courtesy of Comedy Central:

Authors and celebrities also remembered the beloved author on through social media and other outlets. Colbert said of Sendak, "Maurice Sendak was strikingly honest. His art gave us a fantastical but unromanticized reminder of what childhood truly felt like. We are all honored to have been briefly invited into his world," according to the AP.

Gregory Maguire, the author of 'Wicked,' said, "He began to be honest in the `50s. He was laceratingly honest at a time when few others were."

Here are some more responses on Twitter:

[View the story "Maurice Sendak remembered" on Storify]