Goodnight Moon was my favorite book as a child, and in a hilarious turn of events, I just found out that the author actually hated kids. The classic book is a total staple on kiddo bookshelves all over the world with it's famous opening line ("In the great green room . . . ") and adorable illustrations, but as it turns out, Margaret Wise Brown didn't always want to be a children's book writer.
Revealed in Amy Gary's biography of Brown, In the Great Green Room, and reported on by the NY Post, Brown felt ignored as a child by her wealthy, distracted parents, which went on to affect her career. She aspired to be "America's next great novelist," but discovered while working at a school that her stories engaged and resonated with young children.
After she sold one of her stories to a major publishing company and became a success, she claimed that she "harbored a deep insecurity about her career" and eventually wanted to move on to write "real" literature, but felt held back by her childhood. "I hope to write something serious one day as soon as I have something to say," she said, "But I am stuck in my childhood, and that raises the devil when one wants to move on."
Although the ideas for her classic books came easily to her — The Runaway Bunny popped into her head while she was skiing — and were beloved by children, she herself wasn't especially taken with her demographic. "I don't especially like children . . . at least not as a group," she said. "I won't let anybody get away with anything just because he's little."
Another surprising tidbit about Goodnight Moon involves its inspiration, which came after the breakup of a lesbian affair Brown was having with a married woman, Blanche Oelrichs, also known by the name Michael Strange. Heartbroken and recovering from a surgery, Brown took to her house in Maine and wrote a poem about a girl who finds comfort in her thoughts of her childhood room. Two years later and back with Strange again, "the poem returned to her in a dream" and went on to become Goodnight Moon.
Although Brown passed away as a result of a blood clot in 1952, Goodnight Moon was published for the first time in 1953. The timeless classic currently sells over 800,000 copies a year despite its bold author's dislike of children and its arguably unorthodox inspiration. Who would have thunk it?