Born Blanche Marie Louise Oelrichs at her uncle's Hermann Oelrichs' opulent mansion in Newport, Rhode Island designed by renowned architect Stanford White, Blanche Oelrichs spent summers amidst the Astors, the Vanderbilts and numerous other wealthy elites of American society. Her parents were Charles May Oelrichs, and Blanche de Loosey (whose sister was Emilie de Loosey, later Mrs Theodore A. Havemeyer). Her sister Natalie, always known as Lily, became Mrs Peter Martin of San Francisco, and after Peter Martin's premature death, later married Heinrich Borwin, Duke of Mecklenburg, but they later divorced.
On January 26, 1910, Blanche Oelrichs married Leonard Moorhead Thomas, the son of a prominent Philadelphia banker, with whom she had two children, Leonard Jr. (b. 1911–1968) and Robin May Thomas (1915–1944). A Yale University graduate, her husband had worked in the diplomatic service in Rome and Madrid and served with the United States Army in Europe during World War I, earning the Croix de Guerre from the government of France. Blanche Oelrichs involved herself as an activist for women's suffrage but her love for literature and poetry, especially the works of Walt Whitman, saw her begin writing verse of her own. Using the pen name Michael Strange, she had her first collection of poems published in 1916.
Blanche Oelrichs was an American poet, playwright, and theatre actress known by the pseudonym, "Michael Strange." Starting in the summer of 1940 until her death, Oelrichs was in a long-term relationship with Margaret Wise Brown, the author of many children's books. The relationship began as something of a mentoring one, but became a romantic relationship including co-habitating at 10 Gracie Street beginning in 1943. Strange, who was twenty years Brown's senior, died in 1950.
French portrait artist Paul Helleu described Blanche Oerlichs as the "most beautiful woman in America."
Through her social activities, Blanche Oelrichs-Thomas met renowned actor John Barrymore. They had been introduced by actress Cathleen Nesbitt, Barrymore's leading woman in the 1916 play Justice. Blanche continued seeing him for four years and after divorcing Thomas she married Barrymore on August 5, 1920, when she was already several months' pregnant with their only child, Diana Blanche Barrymore, who was born on March 3, 1921. With drawings provided by John Barrymore, Blanche Oelrichs published a book in 1921 titled "Resurrecting Life." She then turned her writing skills to the creation of theatrical plays including a 1921 Broadway production titled "Clair de lune." Based on "L'Homme qui rit" by Victor Hugo, her play starred her husband and his sister Ethel Barrymore. It was made into a 1932 movie of the same name in France by director Henri Diamant-Berger.
In 1921, Oelrichs was among the first to join the Lucy Stone League, an organization that fought for women to preserve their maiden names after marriage.
Frequently apart from her husband due to his performing in New York and London, England, Blanche Oelrichs spent a great deal of time in Paris, France during the next few years. After returning to live in New York, she began acting in live theatre. After her marriage to John Barrymore ended in May 1925 she performed on stage with a summer stock company in Salem, Massachusetts and appeared in two Broadway plays in 1926 and 1927.
Another book of Oelrichs' poetry was published in 1928 under the title "Selected poems, by Michael Strange" and the following year she married a third time to the prominent New York attorney Harrison Tweed who later became Chairman of Sarah Lawrence College. During the second half of the 1930s Oelrichs hosted a poetry and music program on New York radio station WOR that gained a strong audience. In 1940, Blanche Oelrichs published her autobiography, "Who Tells Me True." In 1942 she and Harrison Tweed divorced and in 1944 her son Robin died at the age of twenty-nine.
In 1960 her daughter Diana Barrymore died at age thirty-eight after several years of drug and alcohol addiction. Her older son Leonard was married to painter Yvonne Thomas née Navella. Two daughters were born to Leonard and Yvonne and are the only grandchildren of Blanche Oelrichs.
Blanche Oelrichs died from leukemia in 1950 in Boston. She was interred with her son Robin in the Oelrichs family plot in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.
Margaret Wise Brown (May 23, 1910 – November 13, 1952) was a prolific American writer of children's books, including the picture books Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, both illustrated by Clement Hurd. In the summer of 1940 Brown began a long-term relationship with Blanche Oelrichs (nom de plume Michael Strange), poet/playwright, actress, and the former wife of John Barrymore. The relationship, which began as a mentoring one, eventually became romantic, and included co-habitating at 10 Gracie Square in Manhattan beginning in 1943. Strange, who was twenty years Brown's senior, died in 1950.
The middle child of three whose parents suffered from an unhappy marriage, Brown was born in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, granddaughter of Benjamin Gratz Brown. In 1923 she attended boarding school in Woodstock, Connecticut, while her parents were living in Canterbury. She began attending Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in 1926, where she did well in athletics. After graduation in 1928, Brown went on to Hollins College in Roanoke, Virginia.
Following her graduation with a B.A. in English from Hollins in 1932 Brown worked as a teacher and also studied art. While working at the Bank Street Experimental School in New York City she started writing books for children. Her first was When the Wind Blew, published in 1937 by Harper & Brothers.
Brown went on to develop her Here and Now stories, and later the Noisy Book series while employed as an editor at William R. Scott. From 1944 to 1946, Doubleday published three picture books written by Brown under the pseudonym Golden MacDonald and illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. (Weisgard was a runner-up for the Caldecott Medal in 1946, and he won the 1947 Medal, for Little Lost Lamb and The Little Island. Two more of their collaborations appeared in 1953 and 1956, after Brown's death.) The Little Fur Family, illustrated by Garth Williams, was published in 1946. Early in the 1950s she wrote several books for the Little Golden Books series, including The Color Kittens, Mister Dog, and Scuppers The Sailor Dog.
While at Hollins she was briefly engaged. She dated, for some time, an unknown "good quiet man from Virginia", had a long running affair with William Gaston, and had a summer romance with Preston Schoyer.
In 1952, Brown met James Stillman 'Pebble' Rockefeller Jr. at a party, and they became engaged. Later that year, while on a book tour in Nice, France, she unexpectedly died at 42 of an embolism, two weeks after emergency surgery for an ovarian cyst. (Kicking up her leg to show the doctor how well she was feeling ironically caused a blood clot that had formed in her leg to dislodge and travel to her heart.) By the time of Brown's death, she had authored well over one hundred books. Her ashes were scattered at her island home, "The Only House" in Vinalhaven, Maine.
Brown went by various nicknames in different circles of friends. To her Dana School and Hollins friends she was "Tim", as her hair was the color of timothy hay. To Bank Street friends she was "Brownie". To William Gaston she was "Goldie", in keeping with the use of Golden MacDonald as author of The Little Island.
Brown bequeathed the royalties to many of her books including Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny to Albert Clarke, the son of a neighbor who was nine years old when she died. In 2000, reporter Joshua Prager detailed in The Wall Street Journal the troubled life of Mr. Clarke, who has squandered the millions of dollars the books have earned him and who believes that Wise Brown was his mother, a claim others dismiss.
Brown left behind over 70 unpublished manuscripts. After unsuccessfully trying to sell them, her sister Roberta Brown Rauch kept them in a cedar trunk for decades. In 1991, Amy Gary of WaterMark Inc., rediscovered the paper-clipped bundles, more than 500 typewritten pages in all, and set about getting the stories published.
Many of Brown's books have been re-issued with new illustrations decades after their original publication. Many more of her books are still in print with the original illustrations. Her books have been translated into several languages; biographies on Brown for children have been written by Leonard S. Marcus (Harper Paperbacks, 1999) and Jill C. Wheeler (Checkerboard Books, 2006). There is a Freudian analysis of her "classic series" of bunny books by Claudia H. Pearson, Have a Carrot (Look Again Press, 2010).
GoodNight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd is the last book I read to my one year old son every night before he falls asleep and it will forever represent eternal, unconditional love and wonderful memories. --K.L. GoingDays of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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