March 2 is the birthday of the beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss, aka Theodor Geisel. Geisel was born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. and passed away on September 24, 1991 at the age of 87.
The name Dr. Seuss came from Geisel’s middle name – Seuss – which was also his mother’s maiden name. Geisel credited his mother’s nightly rhyming as she soothed her children to sleep as inspiration for his style of writing for children. Geisel began using the Seuss as a pseudonym while in college when he contributed to Dartmouth College’s humor magazine, “Jack-o-Lantern.”
Geisel later went on to attend Oxford University but became bored and decided to tour Europe. He later pursued a career as a cartoonist with publication of some of his works in “The Saturday Evening Post” and other publications. Geisel spent 15 years creating ad content and campaigns for the Standard Oil company.
Geisel began contributing political cartoons to PM magazine as World War II drew closer. Geisel was too old for the draft when World War II broke out but still wanted to contribute to the war effort. He made training films with Frank Capra’s Signal Corps (U.S. Army) and it was through this venture that he became familiar with animation.
Later, Geisel’s first big break with children’s books was thanks to Viking Press. The publishing company offered him the chance to illustrate a book collection of children’s sayings called Boners.
Persistence paid off for Geisel. The first book that he both wrote and illustrated, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, suffered 27 rejections before it was finally accepted and published by Vanguard Press (which later became Houghton Mifflin).
Geisel was later asked to write and illustrate a children’s book that used 225 new reader vocabulary words as a joint venture for Houghton Mifflin and Random House and in 1957 The Cat in the Hat was born.
Geisel went on to write and illustrate 44 children’s books which sold more than 200 million copies worldwide. Dr. Seuss books have been translated into more than 15 languages, including Latin.
Geisel aka Dr. Seuss won several awards during his lifetime, including two Academy Awards, two Emmy awards, a Peabody and the Pulitzer Prize. Even with all the awards to his credit, Dr. Seuss will always be known and loved as the creator of the ultimate rhyming and rhythm books for young readers. Whether you are discussing Green Eggs and Ham or How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss’s style of writing captures the hearts and minds of young and old alike.
Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!