Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Son of a Witch

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Son of a Witch

by Gregory Maguire

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire X
Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2005, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2006, 356 pages

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Gregory Maguire is the author of a number of books including Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and Wicked, the basis for the Tony Award–winning Broadway musical; and  Leaping Beauty, a book of short stories for children. He has lectured on art and culture at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the DeCordova Museum as well as at conferences around the world. An occasional reviewer for the "New York Times Book Review" he lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts, and in Vermont.

When asked what prompted him to write Wicked, Maguire replied "I was living in London in the early 1990's during the start of the Gulf War. I was interested to see how my own blood temperature chilled at reading a headline in the usually cautious British newspaper, the Times of London: Saddam Hussein: The New Hitler? I caught myself ready to have a fully-formed political opinion about the Gulf War and the necessity of action against Saddam Hussein on the basis of how that headline made me feel. The use of the word Hitler—what a word! What it evokes!  When a few months later several young schoolboys kidnapped and killed a toddler, the British press paid much attention to the nature of the crime. I became interested in the nature of evil, and whether one really could be born bad. I considered briefly writing a novel about Hitler, but discarded the notion due to my general discomfort with the reality of those times. But when I realized that nobody had ever written about the second most evil character in our collective American subconscious, the Wicked Witch of the West, I thought I had experienced a small moment of inspiration."

This article was originally published in November 2005, and has been updated for the October 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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