Remembering the Father of Encyclopedia Brown
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 03:16 PM
LeRoy “Encyclopedia” Brown would have turned 50 next year. Since he’s a fictional character, he’ll always stay just ten years old. But all that time, he’s been solving odd mysteries for the kids of Idaville in a long-running series of childrens’ books.
Encyclopedia Brown’s creator, Donald J. Sobol died last weekend at age 87. Studio 360’s Derek John visited Sobol in 2009 and learned the origin story of his famous character, whom he liked to call "Sherlock Holmes in sneakers."
“The first problem that I had with the book was how to make Encyclopedia Brown likable,” Sobol said, “because I remember from my school days the smartest kid in the class was a nice kid. But he didn’t have close friends. People shied away from him. So I had to work at that. I had to make him modest, and I had to make him upright. He doesn’t charge a fortune. He charges 25 cents a case, which is a little bit preposterous but in 1961, 25 cents a case was adequate. Now, it’s funny.”
Sobol sent his first Encyclopedia Brown mystery to 24 publishers before it got picked up by Random House. We’re glad he persisted. As for all the new ten-year-olds still discovering Encyclopedia Brown, Sobol knew his place with them. “A kid’s not really interested in the author,” he said. “And a kid doesn’t go to cocktail parties and discuss childrens’ books.”
Listen to the full story above.
Did you grow up with Encyclopedia Brown? Tell us about your favorite caper in a comment below.