Ahh…..childhood authors. The innocence of words put to paper to entertain the young and the young at heart. But did you know the darkness that dwelled in some of most favorite childhood stories?
Like authors where was bi-sexual? Author who fled from the office when anyone visited? Even hatred on the set of Mary Poppins!
E. B. White didn’t want to go to the office.
E. B. White was content with sending manuscripts to The New Yorker, but the magazine wanted him on the staff. It took the magazine’s editors months to persuade him to pay them a visit. Then it took a few more weeks to talk him into working for them. When at last he agreed, he made it known that he didn’t want to go to the office. But in the end the editors won—White agreed to go to the office once a week.
This arrangement defined White’s entire association with The New Yorker. He wrote his articles, showed up every Thursday, and fled for the fire escape every time a stranger appeared at the office. In between writing for magazines he wrote stories for children. Stuart Little—his first book for children—appeared in 1945.
Roald Dahl was a spy and a World War II flying ace.
He may not have looked the part, but Roald Dahl was actually a first-rate, real-life action hero. The fun-loving author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory once fought six enemy planes while flying solo. In another battle, he helped reduce twenty-two German planes into useless hunks of smoking metal. He was a Wing Commander and a verified flying ace by the time he was invalided out of the Royal Air Force.
His military career didn’t end there, though. He was sent to the US, along with a crack team of operatives, to combat isolationism among distinguished, influential Americans. Britain wanted the US in the war, and Dahl and his compatriots made sure those who thought otherwise got the message. In other words, forget Pearl Harbor: the Americans entered the war because the creator of the Oompa Loompas made them.
P. L. Travers and Walt Disney were not exactly the best of friends.
P. L. Travers didn’t like a lot of things in Disney’s adaptation of her book Mary Poppins. She didn’t like the music and she hated the film’s weak depiction of the main character. Finally, she didn’t see the point of using animated sequences in the film. She was very vocal about her objections but no one listened.
Travers wasn’t invited to the film’s premiere, either. She had to beg Walt Disney to let her in. After watching the movie she proceeded to give Disney a piece of her mind. Disney just walked out on her, reminding her that the time for any change had passed. Travers never allowed Disney to use any of her work again, which—given Disney’s knack for ruining everything it touches and corrupting children—was probably wise.
C. S. Lewis had a thing going on with his dead friend’s mother.
It all started with a pact: Lewis and his buddy, Paddy Moore, vowed to take care of the other’s families if anything happened to them. World War I was underway, and both men were preparing for the worst. The worst did happen. Paddy died in combat, and Lewis stuck to their agreement.
There was much speculation that Lewis did more than the pact asked of him. He was particularly close to Paddy’s mother, Jane King Moore. Moore was twenty-six years older than Lewis. But that didn’t discourage Lewis from cozying up to her. While the two never admitted to anything, those who knew them saw something else altogether.
Hans Christian Andersen swung both ways.
The lusty but otherwise luckless Andersen never shot it straight. He loved women with a passion, but he also worshipped men with surprising ardor. He may be renowned for his straightforward fairy tales, but in real life he actually played the part of both the knight and the damsel-in-distress. It is believed that his Little Mermaid—horribly butchered by Disney—was actually a gay love letter.
The list of women he loved is long. The list of men he loved is no shorter. Andersen, however, did not see much love come his way. His gangling, awkward ways didn’t endear him to women. The men, on the other hand, were simply unable to respond to his advances. He may have had an intimate relationship with a young, handsome dancer—whom he met when he was in his fifties—but whatever their relationship, it did not last long. Andersen loved many, but remained loveless, for much of his life.
He took to his grave an old letter from a girl whom he had loved in his youth. Sadly this man who gave us so many happy endings never had one of his own.
You’re not going to look at children’s stories the same way again.