Maurice Sendak, a widely acclaimed children’s book author and artist better known for his 1963 bestseller, Where the Wild Things Are, died in Connecticut on Tuesday. He was 83.
Sendak was known for his more macabre, less veiled portrayals of the lives and experiences of children, and emerged on the children’s literature scene at a time when story plots and their accompanying messages were becoming increasingly predictable among storytellers and children.
His more than books and illustrations— later adapted as musicals, operas, and films— derived their character from the nature of Sendak’s upbringing. Born to Polish Jewish immigrants, Sarah and Phillip Sendak, on June 10, 1928, Sendak experienced the troubles of this world first-hand at an early age. Aside from personal illnesses in his youth, Sendak was witness to the ills the world, as the Great Depression, World War II, and the Holocaust occupied his external environment. The Holocaust, specifically, struck a personal chord, as many of Sendak’s relatives perished in the mass tragedy.
Owing to his experiences, Sendak avowed to give his readers an informed view of what the world would have in store for them.
“I refuse to lie to children,” he once told The Guardian, according to the Daily News.
Raised in Bensonhurst, Sendak graduated from Lafayette High School in 1946. “It is in me,” he told the Daily News about Brooklyn—his borough of birth— in 2000. “My Brooklyn is totally internalized.”
Sendak lived with his partner, Dr. Eugene Glynn, until the latter’s death in 2007. In memoriam, Sendak donated $1 million to the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, where Glynn practiced.
Sendak is not survived by any immediate family members.