A Brief Biography of Dr. Seuss -
Theodor Seuss Geisel was born 2 March
1904 in Springfield, MA. He graduated Dartmouth College in 1925, and proceeded on to
Oxford University with the intent of acquiring a doctorate in literature.
At Oxford he met Helen Palmer, who he wed in 1927. He returned from Europe in 1927, and
began working for a magazine called Judge, the leading humor magazine in America at the
time, submitting both cartoons and humorous articles for them. Additionally, he was
submitting cartoons to Life, Vanity Fair and Liberty. In some of his works, he'd made
reference to an insecticide called Flit. These references gained notice, and led to a
contract to draw comic ads for Flit. This association lasted 17 years, gained him national
exposure, and coined the catchphrase "Quick, Henry, the Flit!"
In 1936 on the way to a vaction in Europe, listening to the rhythm of the ship's engines,
he came up with And to
Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, which was then promptly rejected by the first
43 publishers he showed it to. Eventually in 1937 a friend published the book for him, and
it went on to at least moderate success.
During WW II, Geisel joined the army and was sent to Hollywood. Captain Geisel would write
for Frank Capra's Signal Corps Unit (for which he won the Legion of Merit) and do
documentaries (he won Oscar's for Hitler Lives and Design for Death). He also created a
cartoon called Gerald
McBoing-Boing which also won him an Oscar.
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In May of 1954, Life published a report
concerning illiteracy among school children. The report said, among other things, that
children were having trouble to read because their books were boring. This inspired
Geisel's publisher, and prompted him to send Geisel a list of 400 words he felt were
important, asked him to cut the list to 250 words (the publishers idea of how many words
at one time a first grader could absorb), and write a book. Nine months later, Geisel,
using 220 of the words given to him published The
Cat in the Hat, which went on to instant success.
In 1960 Bennett Cerf bet Geisel $50 that he couldn't write an entire book using only fifty
words. The result was Green
Eggs and Ham. Cerf never paid the $50, by the way...
Helen Palmer Geisel died in 1967. Theodor Geisel married Audrey Stone Diamond in 1968.
Theodor Seuss Geisel died 24 September 1991.
Dr. Seuss defied the establishment and revolutionized the process that children use to
learn and read. "Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged,
and to be entertained and delighted," he said.
With over 500 million books in circulation so far, Dr. Seuss has succeeded in becoming the
best-selling children's book author of all time.
Of course, quite often his name is misspelled as Dr. Suess, but there is only one real Dr.
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