Spoiled Children of Divorce


Exemplary Children of Divorce – Ludwig Bemelmans

Wonder if there is a correlation between Children of Divorce and Children’s book writers. Just found a great article on Artsy.com about the writer of the Madeleine books, Ludwig Bemelmans. And, I’ve also read that the writer of “The Lonely Doll” books and Edward Gorey were children of divorce. I remember reading about Madeleine’s appendicitis when I was a child.

According to the article, Bemelmans had a very emotionally difficult childhood. He was born in Italy in 1898 and his Father ran off with a mistress in 1904. Daddy left both his wife and Bemelmans Nanny pregnant. The Nanny committed suicide and Bemelmans moved to Germany with his Mother because that’s where her family was. That is a huge amount of loss all at one time, including one’s innocence about how the world works. I’d like to say that back then no one would have paid attention to how a child feels about such situations but, in reality, they still don’t.

When he was 16, Bemelmans moved to New York City and worked in Hotels. His parents had run a hotel before his Father left. It’s interesting that Bemelmans never actually lived in France where the Madeleine books take place. He based his story on postcards which his Nanny had shared with him. Evenutally a co-worker saw his sketches and suggested he become a illustrator. His first children’s book was published in 1934 and Madeleine won a Caldecott medal in 1940.

Bemelmans married twice and had children from both marriages.


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