Gregory Maguire: Reusing The Past To Express The Present

2012 words - 8 pages

Classic children’s stories have not always inspired joy and dreams; they were once the fuel for gruesome nightmares. In late 1990 London, several students kidnapped and killed a toddler. This nightmarish occurrence inspired American novelist Gregory Maguire (born June 9, 1954) to become interested in the nature of evil and whether someone can be born evil or if they are taught that way. It also affected his literary career by encouraging him to make some twists of his own on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. These changes sparked Maguire’s famed novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Though many have thought the book to be wildly boring and in need of “a little push” ("Gregory Maguire." Newsmakers.), Wicked has over three million copies in print, proving Maguire has a point that people are responding to (CNN). Maguire’s sociological novel Wicked reveals the ethical, political, and social issues he saw displayed in a time of unrest and war while in London ; and explores the question of whether someone can be born evil or have evil taught to them using the fantasy genre.

While Gregory Maguire grew up under unconventional circumstances, his life led him to many experiences that influence the writing of his greatest work. His mother had died in childbirth and, overcome with grief, his father sent Maguire and his 3 siblings to live with relatives. After only six months, Maguire’s aunt sent him to St. Catherine’s Infant Home, where they named him Gregory. Two years later, Maguire’s father remarried to Maguire’s mother’s best friend. It was just after this that the family reunited and, eventually, grew (Witchel). It is not truly known as to why Maguire chose to write children’s fantasies based off of fairy tales; some say it was because he grew up without his mother in a challenging childhood. However, it is known that Maguire attended State University of New York at Albany and received his Bachelor of Arts degree. He then received his PhD from Tufts University in Massachusetts in English and American Literature. It was there that he wrote his doctoral thesis on children’s fantasy from 1933 to 1989. After acquiring his degree, Maguire then became a professor at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from 1979 to 1985, where he also co-directed plays ("Gregory Maguire." Goodreads). Since then, Maguire has written many children’s and adult novels based off of previous fantasies, such as the Hamlet Chronicles (Hamlet), Mirror, Mirror (Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs), and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Cinderella). In the 1990s, Maguire moved to London, where he found his inspiration for his novel Wicked. It was early in the Gulf War and newspapers and magazines were captivated on the war. One headline caught Maguire’s attention over the rest: it was the “Times of London: ‘Saddam Hussein: The New Hitler?’”. After reading this headline Maguire felt, and became interested in...

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