A new biography by Amy Gary reveals that Margaret Wise Brown, author of the classic children’s books Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, had a tumultuous love life that included an affair with a married woman.
Brown never married or had children. Instead, she had a string of torrid romances, including one with Blanche Oelrichs (a.k.a. Michael Strange), a married woman 20 years her senior. Their on-again-off-again romance was the inspiration behind Goodnight Moon.
During one breakup, as Brown recuperated from a broken heart and a surgical operation at her house in Maine that she lovingly referred to as “The Only House,” she wrote a poem about a girl who moved from the country to the city and to soothe herself imagined her old room. The poem became “Goodnight Room.”
Years later, while back in Strange’s arms, the poem returned to her in a dream along with images of her downstairs neighbor’s apartment — its bright green walls, red furniture with yellow trim.
The result was “Goodnight Moon.”
Yep! It turns out that book our parents read to us as children was inspired by some good old-fashioned lesbian drama.
Strange passed away not long after Goodnight Moon was published. Brown moved on, dated a guy named Pebble 16 years her junior and then died of a blood clot after an appendectomy at the age of 42. But her short life left behind a story beloved by millions of children.