Who owns the Moon?
July 21, 2014 7:46 PM   Subscribe

Margaret Wise Brown willed the copyright to 'Goodnight Moon' to a friend's young son. Did she ruin his life?

Mr. Clarke was a rascally nine-year-old when he inherited that jewel. Ever since, as "Goodnight Moon" has drifted toward the center of America's collective consciousness, he has floated on the fringes of society.

Margaret Wise Brown's life and early death. Newly Discovered works.


posted by bq (13 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts…
Mission Accomplished!
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:12 PM on July 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

He sounds like he was a mess even before he got any money from the inheritance, so I doubt it ruined his life. Though it certainly allowed him to waste his life more spectacularly.
posted by tavella at 9:10 PM on July 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

since that article is fourteen years old, wonder what he's doing today.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:04 PM on July 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

Well, that comment of mine has weird typos.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:24 PM on July 21, 2014

It seems to me that his inheritance probably saved him from an early and ignominious end which might otherwise have been likely given his antisocial proclivities and poor coping skills. As it is, he has managed to survive and cobble together some kind of life for himself and his family. There's something to be said for having enough money to simply buy new clothes when perhaps you can't figure out how to do laundry.
posted by Anitanola at 10:41 PM on July 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yeah, going on the content of the article, I don't see much evidence that the inheritance caused any problems that it didn't also help ameliorate.
posted by Ickster at 11:14 PM on July 21, 2014

I can't see "Goodnight Moon" without thinking of this.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:51 PM on July 21, 2014

That's a really interesting story and I am puzzled by the fact that Googling for Albert Edward Clarke III gets you only the original WSJ article and very faint derivatives thereof, even from as recently as 2012.
posted by chavenet at 1:45 AM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree that he was headed down a bad road without the money, but I also think we'll never know if running out of cash might have motivated him to get his act together, while having money facilitated his choice not to.

What I find most perplexing about this is that he would buy new clothes rather than hiring someone to do laundry. I can think of few tasks less tedious than shopping for new clothes, and I can't imagine wanting to do that again and again rather than just getting some laundry done. In fact, I think even doing the laundry oneself is less awful than clothes shopping. Is it possible he just doesn't know there's a laundry option?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:03 AM on July 22, 2014

I can only imagine how hard it's going to be on his kids who have grown up accustom to a disposable lifestyle on the extreme end of disposable. It's not as if he's going to leave them an inheritance, and I can just imagine them sitting in unwashed, dirty clothes that should have been cleaned a month ago, helpless because they realize they don't have the money to replace them.
posted by Atreides at 7:06 AM on July 22, 2014

Atreides: He can leave them the books as an inheritance. I think it's his grandchildren who will be the earliest penniless generation.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:11 AM on July 22, 2014

Good point, I was assuming he lived to see it expire (103 or something?), which, given his lifestyle, is probably less likely than likely.
posted by Atreides at 7:51 AM on July 22, 2014

That assumes that a commercially viable copyright is ever allowed to expire again in this country.

"Ever" is a long time, but I'm not holding my breath for it to happen in the near future. All of the money and the huge party of the political power is on one side of the issue. It has been almost 20 years since the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act and we're about due for another.
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:21 AM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

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