Maurice Sendak Sent Beautifully Illustrated Letters to Fans — So Beautiful a Kid Ate One


I remem­ber thrilling, as a kid, to the enve­lope illus­tra­tions that the mag­a­zines I read ran on their let­ters pages. Not only would some of these read­ers (usu­al­ly read­ers my age, with a lot of time on their hands) go to the trou­ble of writ­ing and mail­ing a phys­i­cal let­ter to their peri­od­i­cal of choice, they’d actu­al­ly get as artis­tic as pos­si­ble with the enve­lope as well. Some even did pret­ty impres­sive jobs, though as the enve­lope-illus­tra­tors of our time go, few rank up there with the likes of Mau­rice Sendak.

“This is how Mau­rice Sendak some­times sent his let­ters,” wrote Let­ters of Note, tweet­ing out the image above. “Just imag­ine get­ting one.” The author of Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen wrote the let­ter con­tained in this par­tic­u­lar enve­lope to his fel­low chil­dren’s book writer-illus­tra­tor Non­ny Hogro­gian, author of One Fine Day and The Con­test. Sendak’s close col­leagues might have got used to receiv­ing such uncon­ven­tion­al­ly illu­mi­nat­ed cor­re­spon­dence, but he also wrote back to each and every one of his young read­ers, some­times with sim­i­lar­ly pre­pared cor­re­spon­dence.

sendak story 2

Let­ters of Note also tweet­ed a quote from Fresh Air inter­view with Sendak in which Ter­ry Gross asked for his favorite com­ments from his fans. Sendak told the sto­ry of a boy from whom he received “a charm­ing card with a lit­tle draw­ing. I loved it.” In reply, he sent the child a post­card of appre­ci­a­tion and drew a Wild Thing on it, just as he did on the enve­lope of his let­ter to Hogro­gian. The boy’s moth­er then wrote back to say her son “Jim loved your card so much he ate it,” which Sendak con­sid­ered “one of the high­est com­pli­ments I’ve ever received. He did­n’t care that it was an orig­i­nal draw­ing or any­thing. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mau­rice Sendak’s Bawdy Illus­tra­tions For Her­man Melville’s Pierre: or, The Ambi­gu­i­ties

The Only Draw­ing from Mau­rice Sendak’s Short-Lived Attempt to Illus­trate The Hob­bit

Mau­rice Sendak’s Emo­tion­al Last Inter­view with NPR’s Ter­ry Gross, Ani­mat­ed by Christoph Nie­mann

An Ani­mat­ed Christ­mas Fable by Mau­rice Sendak (1977)

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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