Maurice Sendak, who died in 2012, left the bulk of his personal library of rare books to the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The author-illustrator’s estate contested the will, and the case was recently settled. The Sendak estate ended up retaining 252 of the books – including two worth millions. But the Rosenbach received 643 books, rounding out existing collections and creating new strengths for Philadelphia’s small museum and library a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square. Rosenbach director Derick Dreher explains why some of the new acquisitions were so important to Sendak.
“Children are a discriminating and often reluctant audience; it is no mean feat, catching their attention. Meggendorfer enlarged the child’s visual pleasure in a way that probably will never be duplicated.” - Maurice Sendak
“Beatrix Potter…was unmitigatingly honest about [animals], sometimes harsh, always adoring, but without any taint of sentimentality.” - Maurice Sendak
Blake was a flaming maniac, and that’s the best compliment. He was fearless, totally fearless. His passion for the mystery of the universe – he made up a universe because he rejected what everyone else believes. He created a world that he could believe in, and you bought it or you didn’t.” - Maurice Sendak
“I think Pierre is as great as Moby Dick. And maybe greater for having searched the underworld of that book, and all I did was take a shot at searching, take a shot at what it was all about. There were complaints about that book – like, ‘these pictures are odd. What do they have to do with the scene?’ Well, sometimes they don’t have to do with the scene. They have to do with how I feel about the scene.” - Maurice Sendak, on his illustrations for Melville’s Pierre