For decades children and their parents around the world have cuddled together to read Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny . While the lulling words of these stories have formed nighttime rituals for millions, few know that these classic works were part of a publishing revolution led by Margaret Wise Brown, who was renowned not only for her prolific writing and creative genius, but also for her stunning beauty and thirst for adventure. In 1990, author Amy Gary discovered unpublished manuscripts, songs, personal letters, and diaries from Margaret tucked away in a trunk in the attic of Margaret's sister's barn. Since then, Gary has pored over these works and with this unique insight in to Margaret's world she chronicles her rise in the literary world. Clever, quirky, and wildly imaginative, Margaret embraced life with passion, threw wild parties, attended rabbit hunts, and lived extravagantly off of her royalties. She carried on long and troubled love affairs with both men and women, including the ex-wife of John Barrymore, and was engaged to a younger man (who was the son of a Carnegie and a Rockefeller) when she died unexpectedly at the age of 42. In the Great Green Room captures the exceptional spirit of Margaret whose unrivaled talent breathed new life in to the literary world. Reviews: “Margaret Wise Brown’s story reads as a stirring evocation of a woman who insisted on freedom in her art and in her love life.” - USA Today. “If the measure of a good life story is the longing it leaves in the reader to have known the subject, this one more than succeeds.” – The Wall Street Journal “Gary adds to the portrait we have of [Margaret Wise Brown] with never-before-seen materials she uncovered in 1990, including manuscripts, diaries, and letters." - Publishers Weekly "Almost impossible to put down, In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown, takes you into the life of one of America's best loved children's authors. A woman out of step with the time in which she lived, she embraced life with passion; from her writings, to her wild parties, to her affairs, this story is as addictive as Margaret's love of adventure." - Jeannie Bailey Avid Reader and BAM! Manager.
- ISBN-13: 9781250065360
- ISBN-10: 1250065364
- Publisher: Book Depot
- Publish Date: September 2017
An author's unconventional life
BookPage Nonfiction Top Pick, January 2017
One cold winter day in January 1991, Amy Gary, the owner of a small publishing company, struck gold in a living room in Vermont. The sister of the late children’s author Margaret Wise Brown showed Gary a trunk brimming with unpublished material—songs, music scores, stories and poems. From that moment on, Gary’s life changed, as she explains: “For over twenty-five years, I’ve tried to live inside the wildly imaginative mind of Margaret Wise Brown.” Her latest contribution to Brown’s legacy is the fascinating biography In the Great Green Room.
Brown, who wrote more than 100 children’s books, is best known for two beloved classics, Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny. Yet her personal life was the antithesis of those soothing bedtime tales, filled with drama, exuberance and, at times, sorrow and loneliness. Gary’s account captures Brown’s life in vivid, novel-like details and descriptions.
The glamorous children’s writer was certainly a study in contrasts. The woman who wrote about furry bunnies and other animals was a hunter—this book describes one such hare hunt with hounds. She was also wildly fun and inventive, throwing parties and leading a group of editors and writers in a self-proclaimed “Birdbrain Club.”
Born in 1910 and raised in a privileged background, she was educated at exclusive boarding schools in Switzerland and New England; however, she failed freshman English at Hollins College. Despite her success as a children’s writer, she longed to write more “serious” adult literature, but couldn’t.
Brown desperately tried to avoid the unhappiness she saw in her own parents’ marriage, and yet for most of her life, her love life was a shambles. While summering on the Maine coast she adored, she fell in love with a well-known womanizer who refused to marry her. She also loved and moved in with a woman 20 years her senior, the former wife of John Barrymore, who was often condescending toward Brown’s work. Finally, she found love with James Stillman Rockefeller Jr. (who writes a captivating foreword), a kind, energetic soul about 15 years her junior. They were about to be married when Brown tragically died at age 42, suffering an embolism after having an appendectomy in France.
For children’s literature buffs and fans of intriguing biographies, In the Great Green Room is a must-read.