Brown, Margaret (1910 - 1952)

Genre: Children's Literature

Born in Brooklyn, NY, on May 23, 1910, Margaret Wise Brown, first as an editor and then as a writer, had a significant role in the creation of the twentieth-century picture book. A number of her books, such as Good Night Moon (1947) and The Runaway Bunny (1942), are considered children's classics.

Most of her dreamy and solitary childhood was lived in Whitestone Landing, Long Island, NY. Brown's family often spent their summer vacations in Maine. After graduating from Hollins College (VA) in 1932, Brown was a student in a Columbia University writers course. She then enrolled in a teacher program at the innovative Bank Street School. She quickly learned teaching was not what she wanted to do. She remained at the school, however, as a member of its publication staff. The school's 'here-and-now' philosophy, which focused on children's sensory experiences of the world, was a major influence on her writing.

In 1938 she became the editor for the newly created children's department of W.R. Scott publishers. She continued as editor until 1941 when she began her full-time writing career during which she published over 100 books.

Brown used three pseudonyms: Timothy Hay, playfully chosen for Horses (1947); Golden MacDonald (the name of an elderly Maine handyman Brown knew) used for all books published for Doubleday editor Margaret Lesser; and Juniper Sage (influenced by Junipero Serra's name) for her collaborations with Edith Thacher Hurd.

In 1943 Brown purchased a former quarry master's house on Vinalhaven Island, Maine, as a summer place where she entertained many writer and illustrator friends. In fact, a small island seen from her property was the inspiration for The Little Island (1946) for which Leonard Weisgard's illustrations received a Caldecott Medal.

On the day she was to be released from a Nice, France, hospital after a successful appendectomy, 13 Nov. 1952, she died unexpectedly from an embolism. Her ashes were brought to Maine and scattered in the ocean off Vinalhaven. A simple stone marker on her island property commemorates her life.

Selected Bibliography

  • The Children's Year (1937)
  • When the Wind Blew (1937)
  • The Noisy Book (1938)
  • Bumble Bugs and Elephants: A Big and Little Book (1938)
  • The Fish with the Deep Sea Smile (1938)
  • The Little Fireman (1938)
  • The Little Fisherman: A Fish Story (1938; illus. Dahlov Ipcar (q.v.)
  • The Log of Christopher Columbus' First Voyage to America in the Year 1492 (1938)
  • The Streamlined Pig (1938)
  • Homes in the Wilderness (1939)
  • Little Pig's Picnic, and Other Stories (1939)
  • The Noisy Book (1939)
  • The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Punch & Judy (1940)
  • Country Noisy Book (1940)
  • The Fables of La Fontaine (1940)
  • Baby Animals (1941)
  • Brer Rabbit: Stories from Uncle Remus (1941)
  • The Polite Penguin (1941)
  • The Poodle and the Sheep (1941)
  • The Seashore Noisy Book (1941)
  • Don't Frighten the Lion! (1941)
  • Indoor Noisy Book (1942)
  • Night and Day (1942)
  • The Runaway Bunny(1942)
  • Big Dog, Little Dog (1943; written as Golden MacDonald)
  • A Child's Good Night Book (1943)
  • Little Chicken (1943)
  • The Noisy Bird Book (1943)
  • SHHhhhh...BANG: a whispering book (1943)
  • Animals, Plants and Machines (1943; written with Lucy Sprague Mitchell)
  • The Big Fur Secret (1944)
  • Black and White (1944)
  • Farm and City (1944; written with Lucy Sprague Mitchell)
  • Horses (1944; written as Timothy Hay)
  • Red Light Green Light (1944; written as Golden MacDonald)
  • They All Saw It (1944)
  • Willie's Walk to Grandmama (1944; written with Rockbridge Campbell)
  • The House of a Hundred Windows (1945)
  • Little Lost Lamb (1945; written as Golden MacDonald)
  • Little Fur Family (1946)
  • The Little Island (1946; written as Golden MacDonald)
  • The Man in the Manhole and the Fix-it Men (1946; written as Juniper Sage)
  • The Bad Little Duckhunter (1947)
  • The First Story (1947)
  • The Golden Egg Book (1947)
  • Goodnight Moon (1947)
  • The Sleepy Little Lion (1947)
  • The Winter Noisy Book (1947)
  • Five Little Firemen (1948; written with Edith Thacher Hurd)
  • The Golden Sleepy Book (1948)
  • The Little Farmer (1948)
  • Wait Till the Moon Is Full (1948)
  • Wonderful Story Book (1948)
  • The Color Kittens (1948)
  • The Important Book (1949)
  • The Little Cowboy (1949)
  • My World (1949)
  • A Pussycat's Christmas (1949)
  • Two Little Trains (1949)
  • The Dark Wood of the Golden Birds (1950)
  • The Dream Book: First Comes the Dream (1950)
  • The Little Fat Policeman (1950; written with Edith Thacher Hurd)
  • O, Said the Squirrel (1950)
  • The Peppermint Family (1950)
  • The Quiet Noisy Book (1950)
  • The Wonderful House (1950)
  • Fox Eyes (1951)
  • The Summer Noisy Book (1951)
  • The Train to Timbuctoo (1951)
  • Two Little Gardeners (1951; written with Edith Thacher Hurd)
  • A Child's Good Morning (1952)
  • Christmas in the Barn (1952)
  • Doctor Squash, The Doll Doctor (1952)
  • Mister Dog: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself (1952)
  • The Noon Balloon (1952)
  • Pussy Willow (1952)
  • Seven Little Postmen (1952; written with Edith Thacher Hurd)
  • Where Have You Been? (1952)

Posthumous titles

  • Another Important Book (1999), a picture book showing kids the important things about being ages 1-6
  • Robin's Room (2002, illus. Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher)
  • My World of Color (2002, illus. Loretta Krupinski)
  • Sailor Boy Jig (2002)
  • Sheep Don't Count Sheep (2003), about a lamb having trouble falling asleep until his mother tells him to count butterflies
  • Sneakers, the Seaside Cat (2003)
  • The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin (2003)
  • A Child is Born (2003; ill. Floyd Cooper; board book).
  • The Days Before Now: An Autobiographical Note by Margaret Wise Brown (1994)edited by Joan W. Blos

Selected Resources

Juvenile Titles

  • Margaret Wise Brown -- Author of Goodnight Moon (1993) by Carol Greene
  • Margaret, Frank, and Andy: Three Writers' Stories (1996) by Cynthia Rylant