The Unexpected Inspirations Behind Beloved Children’s Books

The Atlantic shares a few of the stories and inspirations behind popular books that we love …

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Inspiration: A train journey
Complete Harry Potter seriesOne day in 1990, struggling writer Jo Rowling was taking a train from Manchester from London. She’d apparently spent most of the day apartment-hunting up north — she was planning to move to Manchester with her boyfriend — and as she day-dreamed on the journey home, an idea popped into her head: a story about “a scrawny, little black-haired, bespectacled boy.” The only problem was that Rowling didn’t have a pen with her, so she spent the rest of the journey developing the idea in her head, and set to work on what’d become Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone in the US) that night.

2. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Inspiration: Scary relatives, an inability to draw horses
Fun fact: Where the Wild Things Are was originally going to be called Where the Wild Horses Are. The only problem was that as it transpired, Maurice Sendak couldn’t draw a convincing horse to save his life. In the end, his despairing editor changed the title on the faith that if Sendak couldn’t do horses, he could “at the very least draw ‘a thing.’” The “things” he drew ended up being caricatures of the “hideous” family members who’d visit the young Sendak’s house on a Sunday afternoon. “I drew my relatives,” he admitted to the Los Angeles Times in 1993. “They’re all dead now, so I can tell people.”
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