Ludwig Bemelmans was born on April 27, 1898 and died on October 1, 1962. He was an essayist, humorist,
novelist, artist and an author of books for children.
He was born in the Austrian Tyrol and moved to the United States in 1914. When he arrived in the United
States he worked in the hotel industry. But when the United States entered World War I, Bemelmans enlisted
in the United States Army. He became a United States citizen in 1918, and after the war he returned to the
Although Bemelmans had a huge interest in art, and took art lessons when he was young, he never intended
to be a writer. In fact, he became a restaurateur and an accomplished artist before penning any books.
It wasn't until 1934 that he turned to writing!
It was at the suggestion of May Massee, a children's book editor for Viking Press, that Bemelmans wrote his
first children's book, Hansi. Hansi was the first of Bemelmans' fifteen children's books. It was very well
received by most reviewers. But it was Madeline, which brought Bemelmans his greatest success.
From the time of his marriage to Madeline Freund in 1935 (they had one daughter, Barbara...whom the Madeline
character is modeled after) until his death in New York of pancreatic cancer, Bemelmans wrote approximately one
or two books a year.
Besides children's books, Bemelmans wrote adult books and was a contributor to Vogue, Town and Country, The
New Yorker, Fortune, Harper's Bazaar, McCall's, Holiday, and StageTown and Country, and Horizon.
Bemelmans also did many cover illustrations for The New Yorker, he designed a set for a Broadway show and did
several projects in Hollywood. And he painted murals at New York's Carlyle Hotel which are famous.
In fact, the bar is now named Bemelmans in his honor. (Madeline and her classmates even make a cameo appearance
in Central Park, the mural he created for the walls of the bar, which incidentally is the only surviving Bemelmans
commission open to the public.)
Although Bemelmans became famous for his Madeline books, he always considered himself more an artist illustrator
than a writer, and later in life he became a serious painter with works now on display in the Metropolitan Museum
in New York and the Museé National d'Art of Paris.
That isn't to say he did not take his writing seriously, for he was careful never to insult his young audience.
"We are writing for children, but not for idiots," he once stated.
Bemelmans is buried in Arlington National Cemetery (Section 43, Grave 2618).
Bemelmans, his daughter Barbara,
and his wife Mimi, in Munich.
Bemelmans' Children Books
Bemelmans' Fiction Books
Bemelmans' Dirty Eddie