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Gregory Maguire | Biography


Gregory Maguire was born in Albany, New York, on June 9, 1954, the fourth of seven children. His mother died from complications related to the birth, so he was raised first by an aunt and then left at an orphanage before returning to his biological father, a journalist, and his stepmother, whom he describes as "something of a poet." Maguire began writing stories in early elementary school and spent much of his time at the library, reading voraciously. He showed an early preference for works with fantastical elements, such as C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia.

Maguire earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the State University of New York in Albany in 1976 and a Master of Arts degree in children's literature from Simmons College in Boston in 1978. He taught at Simmons until 1986, and two years later, he cofounded Children's Literature New England, an organization designed to promote children's literature, which he codirected for 25 years. In 1990 Maguire earned a Ph.D. in English and American literature at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

In addition to his academic pursuits, Maguire established himself as a well-regarded author of children's literature, starting with 1978's The Lightning Time, about a young boy who uses supernatural powers to help save his grandmother's Adirondack farm from land developers. Through the 1980s and 90s he published a steady stream of children's books, including The Daughter of the Moon, about a 12-year-old girl who steps into a picture, and the picture book Lucas Fishbone, a rhyming fantasy. He continued to publish children's literature in tandem with adult fiction through the 1990s.

Most of Maguire's books for children include fantasy and science fiction elements, and many of them, such as What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy (2007) and Egg and Spoon (2014) draw on traditional fairy and folk tales as inspiration. His adult fiction focuses on retellings of classic stories from different points of view—often that of villains or minor characters from the original material—allowing for deeper explorations of perspective and challenging preconceived notions about familiar literary figures.

As a child Maguire was a big fan of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its 1939 film adaptation. After annual television airings of the film, he reenacted scenes with his siblings and friends. Many years later he decided to use Baum's Wicked Witch of the West to explore the nature of evil. The result of this exploration is Wicked, his first adult novel, published in 1995. He claims T.H. White's The Once and Future King—a retelling of the King Arthur legends—as an important inspiration for his retellings of famous stories "daringly told as if [they] had never been told before."

Wicked became a best seller and established Maguire as a popular author outside the realm of children's literature. Maguire followed Wicked with a number of novels reimagining other familiar tales, including reimagining other familiar tales, including Cinderella in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (1999) and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in Mirror Mirror (2003).

Maguire also wrote three sequels to Wicked that follow the lives of the Witch's descendants: Son of a Witch (2005), A Lion Among Men (2008), and Out of Oz (2011). Wicked remains Maguire's best-known work, largely because of the tremendous popularity of the Broadway musical adaptation of the novel, first staged in 2003. The Tony award–winning musical is one of the longest-running Broadway plays of all time, having run continuously since its premiere; it has become a touring production as well.

Maguire lives in Concord, Massachusetts, with his husband and their three children.

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