The Illustrated Tolstoy

Maurice Sendak Illustrates Tolstoy
by Maria Popova

Soulful drawings of sorrow and love by the young and insecure artist.

In 1961, legendary editor Ursula Norstrom sent young Maurice Sendak an exquisite letter of creative encouragement as he was spiraling into self-doubt while working on a children’s adaptation of Nikolenka’s Childhood (public library) by Leo Tolstoy, originally published in 1852 — an intense, expressionistic chronicle of the inner life of a young boy, the first novel in the author’s autobiographical trilogy.

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