George MacDonald, December 10, 1824 - September 18. 1905 George MacDonald was born on December 10, 1824 in Huntley, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He attended University in Aberdeen in 1840 and then went on to Highbury College in 1848 where he studied to be a Congregational Minister, receiving his M. A. His first appointment was in Arundel, but he was forced to resign form the position in 1853. He became a lecturer in English Literature at Kings College in London before finally focusing all of his attention on writing and living off the charity of friends and pupils. In 1955, MacDonald wrote his first important original work, a long religious poem entitled "Within and Without." Three years later in 1858, he wrote "Phantastes," his first contribution to the fantasy genre. It was influenced by both the English and Germanic Romantic writers and religious poets of the Renaissance. MacDonald is perhaps best known for his fantasy children's books, although he wrote fantasy books for adults as well. His most well known children's book is "At the Back of the North Wind," which was surprisingly a favorite of Mark Twain's children. In 1863, MacDonald published "David Eiginbrod, the first of a dozen novels that were set in Scotland and based on the lives of rural Scots. It was these series of novels that gained MacDonald worldwide fame and brought money to the foundering MacDonald family. MacDonald was a friend and confident of Lewis Carroll and John Ruskin. He exchanged letters with Mark Twain, and met Walt Whitman and many other American writers on his trips to America. MacDonald also inspired his later compatriots, such as C. S. Lewis, with his blend of fantasy and Christianity. George MacDonald died in Ashtead, Surrey, England, on September 18. 1905. His body is buried in Bordighea, Italy, a place he spent most of his later years in.
Maurice Sendak was born on June 10, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York. While in high school, he worked part time as an illustrator for All-American Comics adapting the Mutt and Jeff newspaper comic strip to a comic book format. His first professional illustrations were for a physics textbook, Atomics for the Millions, published in 1947. He later worked as a window-display director for F.A.O. Schwartz while attending night school at the Art Students League. In 1950, he illustrated his first children's book The Wonderful Farm by Marcel Aymï¿½. He wrote his first children's book Kenny's Window in 1956 and went on to become a prolific author-illustrator. His works include Chicken Soup with Rice; In the Night Kitchen; Outside Over There; Higglety Pigglety Pop; The Sign on Rosie's Door; We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy; Brundibar; Bumble Ardy; and My Brother's Book. He received numerous awards including the Caldecott medal for Where The Wild Things Are in 1964, the Hans Christian Andersen International Medal in 1970, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the National Medal of Arts in 1996. Characters from two of his books were the basis of an animated television special, Really Rosie, which first aired in 1975. He was also the set designer and lyricist for a subsequent off-Broadway musical of the same title. He was the lyricist, as well as the set and costume designer, for the original production of an opera based on Where The Wild Things Are in 1980. In addition, he has designed sets and costumes for performances of operas by Mozart, Prokofiev, and other classical composers. He died due to complications from a recent stroke on May 8, 2012 at the age of 83.
W. H. Auden, who was born in York, England, on February 21, 1907, is one of the most successful and well-known poets of the 20th century. Educated at Oxford, Auden served in the Spanish Civil War, which greatly influenced his work. He also taught in public schools in Scotland and England during the 1930s. It was during this time that he rose to public fame with such works as "Paid on Both Sides" and "The Orators." Auden eventually immigrated to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1946. It was in the U.S. that he met his longtime partner Chester Kallman. Stylistically, Auden was known for his incomparable technique and his linguistic innovations. The term Audenesque became an adjective to describe the contemporary sounding speech reflected in his poems. Auden's numerous awards included a Bollingen Prize in Poetry, A National Book Award for "The Shield of Achilles," a National Medal for Literature from the National Book Committee, and a Gold Medal from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Numerous volumes of his poetry remain available today, including "About the House" and "City Without Walls." W.H. Auden died on September 28, 1973 in Vienna.