Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

Theodor GeiselTheodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2nd, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1925, and went on to Oxford University in England.

He returned to the USA 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. The "Boids and Beasties," which he drew for a series of Judge stories, were precursors of the strangely shaped, silly animals that were to become the beloved Loraxes, Whos, and Zooks of later stories. In some of his works, he had 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 World War II, Geisel joined the army and was sent to Hollywood where he wrote documentaries and drew cartoons. He won a number of awards including an Oscar for a cartoon called Gerald McBoing-Boing.

In May 1954, Life published a report concerning illiteracy among school children. The report included an opinion that children were having trouble reading 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, and write a book. Nine months later using just 220 of the words, Geisel completed 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, a best seller.

Dr. Seuss was granted doctorates in literature and fine arts by seven universities. By the time he put down his pen, he had written and illustrated 44 books. Theodor Seuss Geisel died on the 24th of September, 1991.