A biography of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary titled In the Great Green Room reveals that Brown, author of the classic children’s books Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, had a tumultuous love life which included an affair with a married woman.
Brown never married or had children. Instead she had a string of apparently torrid romances, including one with Blanche Oelrichs (who used the male nom de plume Michael Strange for her erotic poetry), a married woman 20 years her senior.
Thew two women’s on-again-off-again romance was actually the inspiration behind the beloved classic Goodnight Moon.
The New York Post writes:
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 this book, which many of 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, dating a guy named Pebble 16 years her junior before dying 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.
Was Goodnight Moon one of your favorite childhood books? Did you know about the same-sex romance story behind Goodnight Moon?
This story was originally published on Jan. 9, 2017