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Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom

Marcus, Leonard S. (Editor)

496 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0060236256 / ISBN 13: 9780060236250
Published by HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, 1998
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Monroe Street Books (Middlebury, VT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

406 pages. SIGNED by editor Leonard Marcus on title page. Clean, unmarked copy with only minor edgewear to dust jacket. Record # 460504. Bookseller Inventory # 460504

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

About this title


She trusted her immense intuition and generous heart--and published the most groundbreaking books for children in modern history... Ursula Nordstrom, director of Harper's Department of Books for Boys and Girls from 1940 to 1973, was arguably the single most creative force for innovation in children's book publishing in the United States during the twentieth century. Considered an editor of maverick temperament and taste, her unorthodox vision helped create such classics as Goodnight Moon, Charlotte's Web, Where the Wild Things Are, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and The Giving Tree.

Leonard S. Marcus has culled an exceptional collection of letters from the HarperCollins archives. The letters included here are representative of the brilliant correspondence that was instrumental in the creation of some of the most beloved books in the world today. Full of wit and humor, they are immensely entertaining, thought-provoking, and moving in their revelation of the devotion and high-voltage intellect of an incomparably gifted editor, mentor, and publishing visionary.


Ursula Nordstrom, editorial director of Harper's Department of Books for Boys and Girls from 1940 to 1973 and a formidable creative force in 20th-century children's book publishing, was responsible for polishing and shepherding countless dog-eared classics from Where the Wild Things Are to Charlotte's Web to Harriet the Spy. One of the most remarkable things about this extraordinary woman was her prolific correspondence with her cherished team of children's book authors and illustrators, all of whom she liked to call "Genius." Fortunately, many of her letters--warm, witty, temperamental, flattering, extravagant, self-deprecating, sympathetic, and always human--have been culled from HarperCollins's archives, gathered from many generous individuals, and arranged in chronological order by the noted biographer and critic Leonard S. Marcus. The result is Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, complete with black-and-white photographs, extensive footnotes, a bibliography, and an index.

In this fascinating behind-the-scenes look at children's book publishing, letters to Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak, Laura Ingalls Wilder, John Steptoe, and Kay Thompson reveal a woman on an unorthodox quest to wrench children's literature from the stultifying clutches of sentimental illusion and false piety. Her dedication to creative, honest, original, non-condescending books for children changed the landscape of children's literature forever. As Marcus writes in his introduction, "...her letters have much to tell about the arts of writing, illustrating, and editing; the social history of the twentieth century; and the pivotal role that books, and a love of books, can play in children's lives. To read the letters is to receive a many-faceted education from a teacher of rare insight, good humor, and lively humanity. I am glad that readers will now be able to share in the experience."

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