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Dr. Seuss – Life, Works and a Lot of Facts to Know the Artist a Little More Closely


Dr. Seuss - biography

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“When things aren’t going well, I always say to myself, ‘You can do better’.” Here the speaker is the writer of The Cat in the Hat. He was an American cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, screenwriter,

filmmaker and children’s author. He was Theodor Seuss Geisel aka Dr. Seuss. The man could easily make children believe and fall in love with the characters he created in his stories. Children fantasized about the world of the stories and wished to play with the weird, imaginary characters there. As they would cherish these experiences for the rest of the lives, Dr. Seuss’ creations would get long lives.

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Childhood and Parents

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on 2nd March 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts, U.S to Theodor Robert Geisel and Henrietta (née Seuss). He had a sister named Marine. His nickname was Ted. Ted’s grandfather was a German brewer but his father could not take over the family business because brewery was prohibited in America at that time. So his father took a job at a local zoo. Robert Geisel used to bring his children to the zoo where the little boy spent his time drawing the animals in his sketch pad. Later he depicted these animal models in his books. On the other hand, Ted’s mother allowed her son to turn the walls of the attic into his canvases where he could freely express and give wings to his imagination. She used to sing funny lullabies for her children. Those rhythmic songs consisted of the names of different fruits, foods, etc. Theodor’s father also had a great sense of humor. Dr. Seuss later admitted that his parents especially his mother planted in him the love for rhyme and rhythm.

 

Education

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Henrietta could not complete her studies; she wanted her children to fulfill her dream of having degrees of higher education. She always encouraged Ted. At school, Ted’s teacher predicted that he would never be able to learn the art of drawing properly. But later he became a successful cartoonist and illustrator with his unique style.

Theodor Seuss Geisel graduated from Dartmouth college with philology. When he was a student there, he was caught drinking gin which was against the college rules. Though Theodor was not expelled from the institution, he lost his position as an editor in the college humor magazine, Jack-o-Lantern. This incident forced him to adopt the pseudonym “Dr. Seuss”; under this name, he continued his writing. Seuss was the middle name of Theodor’s mother. But he was not a real doctor.

Some critics say that he took the title ‘Dr.’ because his father wanted him to be one. According to Dr. Seuss, the educational institutions turned the students away from art and culture. Then he went to Oxford University to study English literature but he used to make sketches in his notebooks instead of taking notes. He wrote in his diary that university life was a meaningless pastime for him.

 

Marriage and Children

Theodor Geisel fell in love with Helen Palmer. Helen was a co-author and friend of him. Dr. Seuss married her and moved to the U.S in the year 1927. He had no children of his own but knew how to treat the minds of children with delicacy and kindness.

That can be understood by reading his books too. He said, “I love children as much as I love adults.” Age was not a barrier to communication. On 23rd October 1967 Helen, a cancer patient at that time, committed suicide as she came to know about her husband’s affair with Andrey Stone Diamond, a film producer. Theodor married Diamond on 21st June 1968 and became a stepfather to two daughters of her.

Career

 

Geisel left Oxford in 1927 and began his career as an illustrator of Vanity Fair, Life publications. He worked in advertising campaigns. Theodor drew political cartoons for the American newspaper, PM. He also worked in the animation and film department of the United States Army; he drew pictures for the war advertisements; he wrote scripts for Hollywood documentary films. But mainly his books for children with funny, nonsensical and rhyming words made him popular. Mosquito repellent manufacturer Flit asked him to write books only for children.

 

Books

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While traveling on a steamer (1936), Dr. Seuss heard the sounds of the engine, sea-waves, passengers and those reminded him of a musical performance he witnessed in a circus. He cooked his first story for children in his mind using these elements. It was a story about a boy whose imagination, a horse-drawn cart became cavalcade driven by elephants and giraffes. This was And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street; 27 to 28 publishers rejected this book before a school friend of Seuss agreed to publish it. It was finally published in 1937.

Houghton Mifflin, director of the educational literature publishing house asked Dr. Seuss to write an engaging and easy-to-read book for the first graders. Seuss was handed over some 348 words which were familiar to any children and he wove a beautiful fiction using those.

His book Green Eggs and Ham had only 50 words.

The writer visited Hiroshima after the Second World War and wrote about the people who did not care for the future and about the rule-breaking mentality. Dr. Seuss wrote an entire book less than an hour and that even on clean laundry forms. He liked to give his characters funny names.

The Cat in the Hat(1957) was described by a critic as a ‘tour de force’.

Here a tall cat came in Sally’s house and played with the children when they were alone.

Little boys and girls learnt alphabet by reading Seuss’ book. His silly

rhymes gave children both education and enjoyment.

Other works by Dr. Seuss:

If I Ran the Zoo (1950)

If I Ran the Circus (1956)

Hop on Pop (1963)Fox in Socks (1965)

The Lorax (1971)

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (1990)

Dr. Seuss wrote almost 60 books and 44 among those were translated into 20 languages.

 

Movie adaptations: Many works of the author had been turned into television series and movies such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, The Cat in the Hat ,The Lorax, Horton Hears a Who! These movies featured the voices of Boris Karloff, Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, and others. Theodor himself directed some films.

 

Death and Awards

The illustrator died on 24th September, 1991 ( at the age of 87 years). He was in California, US at that time. He was awarded many honors during his lifetime as well as after his death. Dr. Seuss won Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 for Horton Hatches the Egg and again in 1961 for the book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

He also received an Academy Award, Pulitzer Prize, three Emmys and three Grammys Awards. Dartmouth Medical School was renamed after this humorous author and his wife, Audrey. Russian poet Chukovsky wrote, “ Dr. Seuss is the most famous children’s writer in the United States.” His birthday (2nd March) is celebrated as the National Read Across America Day. But his fame is not limited to America only. The whole world respects the man till date.

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Some Stories and Fun facts about Dr. Seuss

 

  • The author’ s phone number was very much similar to that of a fish store. Only one digit was different. Whenever anyone accidentally called him and asked for fish, he used to send him a drawing of that fish instead of telling the truth.• Seuss used his creative and imaginative power in books as well as in his daily life. His home was painted with cat-like creatures .“ Beware of the cat” -it was written on his door.
  • When the author came to meet his readers, he often put on the costumes of The Cat in the Hat and tried to turn himself into a child for a while.
  • He was able to write about 500-1000 words in his first try and could write for ten hours a day.
  • Dr. Seuss took care of the young minds through his writings and also nurtured the saplings of his garden.

 

So this was the journey of Theodor Seuss Geisel who earned love and fame under the name ‘Dr. Seuss’. He once said,

“ The more that you read, the more things you will know,

The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

 

 

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