Not satisfied to simply create the literature that shaped your entire childhood, the people behind your favorite children's books led fascinating lives. From champion beaglers to real-life James Bonds, the stories behind these authors are equally as fascinating as the books they wrote.

 

  • 1

    Ludwig Bemelmans, 'Madeline'

    Wikipedia

    If you're at all familiar with sweet Madeline and her cohorts at a Catholic boarding school in Paris, you'll probably be surprised to learn that author Ludwig Bemelmans was forced to emigrate to the United States for shooting and seriously wounding a waiter at a hotel in Austria.

  • 2

    Beatrix Potter, 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit'

  • 3

    Margaret and H.A. Rey, 'Curious George'

    ChronicleBooks

    H.A. Rey built two bicycles out of spare parts, and he and his wife escaped Paris on them, taking the manuscript for Curious George with them, hours before the city fell to Nazis.

  • 4

    Margery Williams, 'The Velveteen Rabbit'

    s9

    Margery Williams wrote a horror novel called 'The Thing in the Woods' under the pseudonym Harper Williams. The story, about a werewolf and his more human brother, reportedly inspired H.P. Lovecraft's short story 'The Dunwich Horror.' If you think about how much 'The Velveteen Rabbit' made you sob as a child, this isn't THAT surprising.

  • 5

    Theodor Geisel, Dr. Seuss

  • 6

    Crockett Johnson, 'Harold and the Purple Crayon'

    k-state.edu

    Crockett Johnson was more than an author and illustrator; he also received a patent for a four-way adjustable mattress and contributed original geometry theorems to Mathematical Gazette.

  • 7

    Roald Dahl, 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' (and obviously many more)

  • 8

    Shel Silverstein, 'A Light in the Attic,' 'Where the Sidewalk Ends'

    Amazon

    Sure he wrote most of the poems that were your favorites when you were a kid, but Shel Silverstein was also a cartoonist and writer for Playboy when the magazine first started. He also lived in the Playboy mansion off and on and wrote the song 'A Boy Named Sue,' which was famously recorded by Johnny Cash.

  • 9

    Maurice Sendak, 'Where the Wild Things Are'

    Spencer Platt, Getty Images

    Before Sendak's career as an illustrator took off, he was a window dresser for FAO Schwarz. He also spent time out at Crockett Johnson's house on a lake in Long Island, where Johnson was something of a mentor.

  • 10

    Dorothy Kunhardt, 'Pat the Bunny'

  • 11

    Margaret Wise Brown, 'Goodnight, Moon'

    MargaretWiseBrown.com

    The life of the woman behind 'Goodnight, Moon' was so fascinating that it was hard to pick just one fact to share -- she dated the prince of Spain and the former wife of actor John Barrymore, threatened to murder a publisher with a bow and arrow and was a national Beagling champion. To be frank, we recommend reading this thorough (but entertaining) biography of Brown to get an idea of the enchanted, and sadly brief, life of Margaret Wise Brown.