Episode 17: Margaret Wise Brown

Nation of Writers
Nation of Writers
Episode 17: Margaret Wise Brown

In this episode, we’ll discuss the life and work of Margaret Wise Brown, the children’s book author of classics such as Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny. Margaret’s books have sold millions of copies all over the world, but few people know that she was at the center of a children’s book publishing revolution. Her whimsy and imagination fueled a steady stream of stories, book ideas, songs, and poems and she was renowned for her prolific writing and business savvy, as well as her stunning beauty and endless thirst for adventure.

Today we are joined by writer and editor Amy Gary. In 1990, Gary discovered unpublished manuscripts and songs from Margaret Wise Brown tucked away in a trunk in the attic of Margaret’s sister’s barn. Since then, Gary has cataloged, edited, and researched all of Margaret’s writings. She has worked with several publishers to publish more than 100 of those manuscripts, which include bestsellers and Caldecott nominees.

Amy’s work on Margaret has been covered in Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, and on NPR. Her biography on Margaret, In the Great Green Room, was published by Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, and was named a best book of the year by Amazon when it was published.

She was formerly the Director of Publishing at Lucasfilm and headed the publishing department at Pixar Animation studios. In addition to writing, she packages books for retailers and consults with publishers. In that capacity, she has worked with Sam’s Wholesale, Books-a-Million, Sterling Publishers, and Charles Schultz Creative Associates.

Gary is interviewed by Nate King, Digital Content Associate for the American Writers Museum.

Below is one of the many interesting notes Gary found while going through Brown’s papers, which is discussed further in the podcast. Brown often gave illustrators alternate lines to use, which is unheard of in today’s children’s book publishing world. Image is copyright Hollins University. Used with permission.

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