Ludwig Bemelmans was born April 27, 1898 in Meran, Austria, which today is in Italy. When he was eight his parents divorced and he and his mother went to live with her family in Regensburg, Germany.
Ludwig was a “busy boy.” He attended various schools and private academies but failed at most of them. When his mother was at wit’s end she sent him to live with his uncle who owned a number of hotels. Ludwig worked as an apprentice in the wait staff for two years before being dismissed and immigrating to New York in 1914.
Bemelmans’ writing often contains experiences from him own life. His first adult book, My War with the United States, is actually a translation of the diary he kept during his World War I service.
It was May Massee, the famous children’s book editor for Viking Press, who suggested Bemelmans write for children. His first book, published in 1934, was Hansi. Ludwig Bemelmans is most well-known for Madeline, a picture book about a Parisian schoolgirl who becomes the envy of her classmates when her appendix is removed. Madeline’s Rescue, the second book in the series, was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1953.
He married Madeline Freund in 1935 and they had one daughter, Barbara. Bemelmans died October 1, 1962 in New York. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.