Anna Holmes on the Radical Life of Margaret Wise Brown
From the History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today? Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
“Goodnight comb and goodnight brush… And goodnight to the old lady whispering hush…Goodnight moon…” Telling the “story” of a darkening room at bedtime, Goodnight Moon (1947) has gone from near obscurity to selling close to a million copies a year. But if you thought—as Jacke did—that the author of this odd, quiet book was probably something of a quiet old lady whispering hush herself, you couldn’t be more wrong. Margaret Wise Brown was a radical young woman who blew her money on furs and trips to Europe, had long-term relationships with both men and women, and spent her weekends hunting rabbits.
In this episode, Anna Holmes, who wrote about Margaret Wise Brown for the New Yorker, joins Jacke to discuss the surprising story behind a beloved children’s classic. Be sure to read Anna Holmes’s essay about Margaret Wise Brown’s life and works in the New Yorker.