The celebrated author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who would have turned 86 today, spoke with Bill about some of the surprisingly dark influences behind his work in this 2004 interview. Sendak has been called the Picasso of children’s literature, and godfather to generations of readers. His landmark book, Where the Wild Things Are, which he wrote and illustrated, catapulted him to international fame.
Sendak, who died in 2012, tells Bill that he was shaped by immigrant parents and the tragedy of the Holocaust. He reveals insight into his complicated psyche and a rare window into the soul of an acclaimed artist. He also discusses how he shaped the character of Max, the mischievous lead in his blockbuster book, and what he might have been like as an adult.
“People often say, ‘What happens to Max?’ It’s such a coy question that I always say, ‘Well, he’s in therapy forever. He has to wear a straitjacket when he’s with his therapist,’” Sendak told Moyers.