‘Where the Wild Things Are’ Author Maurice Sendak is Dead at 83

SendakMaurice Sendak, the gay author of iconic children's books like Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, has died at 83.

The cause was complications from a recent stroke, said Michael di Capua, his longtime editor.

Sendak came out of the closet publicly in 2008 in an interview with the New York Times:

"Was there anything he had never been asked? He paused for a few moments and answered, 'Well, that I’m gay…I just didn’t think it was anybody’s business,' Mr. Sendak added. He lived with Eugene Glynn, a psychoanalyst, for 50 years before Dr. Glynn’s death in May 2007. He never told his parents: 'All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy. They never, never, never knew.' Children protect their parents, Mr. Sendak said. It was like the time he had a heart attack at 39. His mother was dying from cancer in the hospital, and he decided to keep the news to himself, something he now regrets. A gay artist in New York is not exactly uncommon, but Mr. Sendak said that the idea of a gay man writing children books would have hurt his career when he was in his 20s and 30s."

Sendak recently appeared in two genius interviews with Stephen Colbert. If you missed them, makes sure to take a look HERE and HERE.


  1. VDUFFORD says

    It is always kind of a shock when a true genius passes. An author and illustrator like no other. I know his spirt is where he would want to be…”Where the Wild Things Are”

  2. endo says

    The AP obit that gets picked up by most newspapers around the country makes no mention that he’s gay or had a partner of 50 years.

    It’s like we still live in the sixties!

  3. says

    @naughtylola Yes, marriages of any length or period are always mentioned. And certainly a 50-year (!) partnership would be. Have not seen the full Associated Press copy, so don’t know what the papers are working with.

  4. Paul R says

    I usually don’t care when someone famous dies, but this has upset me. Where the Wild Things Are is my favorite childhood book by far.

    A few years ago my parents were visiting and pulled a sneaky move where my mother distracted me while my father bought me a woven rug with the huge face of one of the monsters. It was so sweet and funny.

  5. endo says

    @NaughtyLola: Yes, of course they do. The AP obit covers his parents and 2 siblings, his Jewish heritage … but no mention of his partner or sexuality.

  6. Matt says

    @andrewpatner I’ve seen the AP story published in several locations without any mention of his relationship but the longer version posted on the AP site mentions Glynn: http://apne.ws/JZEIsh

    Are the publications choosing to edit it or does the AP send out multiple versions?

  7. Thomasina says

    @endo: Well, they weren’t married, despite their half century together, so you can’t call them “husbands.” And I think that “longtime companion,” although quaint, is a better term than “partner,” which seems to be the endemic word now but which I see as a impersonal, clinical, and (when applied to gay or lesbian relationships) potentially re-closeting (intentionally or not). I have seen lots of examples in the media recently in which a profile of a gay or lesbian public figure includes the word “partner” in a way that makes the person’s homosexuality ambiguous if not completely obfuscated. As someone who only sometimes did both the writing and art for his books (he also sometimes just did the art while someone else wrote the text), Maurice Sendak had a lot of *professional* partners in his career, so I think that it is clearer and less offensive to avoid the word “partner” when referring to Mr. Glynn. The word “partner” could easily give an obituary reader who knows little about Sendak’s life the idea that Glynn was some kind of business partner or one of his many co-authors, and I don’t think their fifty-year relationship deserves that sort of minimization or denigration.

  8. says

    Don’t anybody dare memorialize Maurice Sendak as a “queer” artist! He was a great artist, period. There was nothing queer about his work or his loving partnership with Dr. Eugene Glynn.

    No Straight Lines, a book featuring some of the finest work by LGBT artists like Alison Bechdel and Howard Cruse is coming out with the disrespectful subtitle Four Decades Of Queer Comics. LGBT compilers are behind this insulting project!

    I am sick to death of exceptional craftsmen being marginalized and stigmatized just because they are Lesbian, Gay or Transsexual! It’s time we deal with our internalized shame once and for all and get to a place where we can speak of our talented ones with respect.

  9. Thomas says

    As a child I didn’t read his books, I guess I just missed that boat. But, I saw Were The Wild Things are when the film came out, and found myself relating to the young boy in the film more then any other character I had ever seen in a movie. I then went back and read his books, they are really great. His interview on Colbert is freaking legendary.

    He will be missed.

  10. Dback says

    There was a time when Sendak’s work drew fire from knuckle-dragging conservatives on the Religious Right (Max defying authority and running away, the naked boy of “In the Night Kitchen,” etc.). Now it seems the squishy liberal left is censoring him more and more (“too violent” “too dark” “too disturbing” “too controversial”). When you’ve managed to tick off the fringes and the know-nothings for some 50 years, you’re probably creating Art–and Sendak was nothing if not a great, great American artist. Bless him, and all the kids who “got” him.

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