Celebrating Seniors - Mercer Mayer is 72

Prolific children’s author and illustrator Mercer Mayer was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on December 30, 1943, during World War II. His American Navy father moved the family to Honolulu, Hawaii, when he was 13 and Mayer attended high school there. 

Pursuing his dream of being an illustrator for children’s books, Mayer moved to New York City in 1964 where he met and eventually married a fellow artist named Marianna.

While working at an advertising agency, Mayer worked on his illustrations in his leisure time. His first published book A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog (1967) was soon followed by others.

By 1976 Mercer Mayer had published his first Little Critters book, Just For You, and was working for Golden Publishing. His Little Critter and Little Monster series of children’s books are popular reading materials for parents, grandparents, and early readers.

A grandfather now himself, Mayer has been a resident of Roxbury, Connecticut for many years; he and Marianna lived on a farm near there and collaborated on some creative works together, but divorced in 1978. Mayer then married again in 1979 to second wife Jo, and they had three children together (Len, Arden, and Jessie), before divorcing.

Mayer’s third wife Gina has collaborated with him on many of the Little Critter books since the 1990’s, and they have had two sons together – Ben, and Zebulon.

In a November 2015 interview with Tyler Harper for Hazlitt, now septuagenarian senior citizen Mercer Mayer reflected on his writing habits, and philosophized about retirement and death.

A Buddhist and into meditation, Mayer has written and illustrated more than 300 books, and writes 3 books a year on average.

About growing older, Mayer told Harper

As I’ve gotten older time has gotten extremely faster,” and when asked about retirement, said “Technically, I could retire. But then I would get extremely bored and write a book. Put it this way: I am basically retired and I am somehow now writing three books a year.” 

When asked if he saw an end to this at some point, Mayer offered this advice:

Yeah, I’ll be dead. I will be dead. So don’t worry about it, you’ll join me…But I don’t envision an end like I don’t envision a beginning. We’re all here now and it’s just what we do. Be here now.

Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & writer Anita Hamilton's articles are inspired by real historical events, places, and people. Her travel experiences, a lifelong keen interest in history, art, vintage music, books, silent films, classic movies, "golden age" television shows, fashion, & entertainment in general - combined with years of research - make her a subject matter expert with acquired knowledge & expertise on these topics. This, and a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

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