"Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope."

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

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Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was an American writer, poet, illustrator and political cartoonist most known for his many successful children's books. Seuss was known for his use of anapestic tetrameter, a memorable and catchy rhythm best suited for comical and melodic poems. Over the course of his career, Seuss published over 46 children's books and many were later adapted into films. Seuss's best selling and most famous works include the titles: Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Seuss was a strong supporter of the US army during the Second World War and worked in advertising during The Great Depression, a medium that let him explore both illustration and wordplay. March 2nd, Seuss's birth date, was adopted as the yearly "National Read Across America Day," in an attempt to inspire children to read more.

DrSeuss2Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father ran a family brewery which had to be shut down during Prohibition. Seuss made his first serious foray into writing at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Seuss wrote for the university humor magazine, the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, where he eventually became the editor. After the university suggested he drop out of extracurricular activities after being caught drinking gin with his friends, he continued to contribute under his new pen name: Dr. Seuss. As a student, Seuss was inspired and encouraged by his professor of rhetoric W. Benfield Pressey. After graduation, Seuss contributed to weekly magazine The Judge and briefly attended Oxford University.

 

"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You."

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After college, Seuss submitted his work to a variety of magazines and papers including Judge, Life, Vanity Fair, Liberty and The Saturday Evening Post. He went on to work in advertising, and created the successful campaigns for insect repellant Flint ("Quick, Henry, the Flint!") and Essomarine, a motor boat lubricant producer. Throughout the economically precarious 1930s, Seuss managed to earn a living by creating advertisements for General Electric, NBC, Standard Oil, Narragansett Brewing Company and more. He also wrote and drew his own comic strip Hejji, although it was short lived.

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Dr. Seuss's first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was inspired by the rhythm of a ship's engine on a trip to Europe. The book was rejected by over 43 publishing companies which caused Seuss extreme agitation and doubt. He almost destroyed the manuscript. Legend has it that as Seuss was walking down Madison Avenue to burn the copy in his apartment incinerator, he ran into a Dartmouth friend who now worked at Vanguard Press, and so the book got accepted. The book would later make Springfield's Mulberry Street a famous spot. Over the next few years Seuss wrote four more children's books including The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, The King's Stilts, The Seven Lady Godivas and Horton Hatches the Egg. The United States then went to war.

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."

"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams."

The Sneetches

How The Grinch Stole Christmas Trailer

“It has often been said there’s so much to be read, you never can cram all those words in your head.

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs is making a chore for the reader who reads.

That's why my belief is the briefer the brief is, the greater the sigh of the reader's relief is.

And that's why your books have such power and strength. You publish with shorth! (Shorth is better than length.)”

DrSeuss6In the 1940s, Dr. Seuss became focused on political cartoons. He drew over 400 of them for left wing New York paper PM. Dr. Seuss greatly opposed Hitler and Mussolini, and spoke out against "isolationists" such as Charles Lindberg. He was strongly supportive of President Roosevelt's efforts and supported his country. Seuss then drew posters for the Treasury Department and the War Production Board before enlisting in the US army to head the animation department of the First Motion Picture Unit. Seuss wrote the films Your Job in Germany, Our Job in Japan, and Private Snafu. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his work. Seuss's political cartoons would later be published in collection Dr. Seuss Goes to War.

Once the war was over, Seuss and his wife Helen Palmer Geisel moved to La Jolla, California where once again, his attention steered to children's books. Seuss wrote If I Ran the Zoo, Horton Hears a Who!, If I Ran the Circus, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Green Eggs and Ham and won many awards. In 1954, Life magazine wrote a report on the epidemic of illiteracy in America. The education director at publishing company Houghton Mifflin hired Seuss to write a book using 250 of the most important words elementary-aged children should learn. Thus, The Cat in the Hat was born. The simplified vocabulary and lyrical beat made the book both easy to read and interesting to children. Seuss would write other books in the same style and they would be marketed as "Beginner's Books".

"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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Green Eggs and Ham

DrSeuss9After the death of his wife, Dr. Seuss remarried Audrey Stone Dimond, with whom he would work to raise money for the San Diego's University Library Building. The library was renamed Geisel Library for their generous efforts and dedication to literacy. Seuss never had any of his own children, prefering instead to concentrate on writing work for others. He was reported to say, "You have 'em, I'll entertain them". Seuss died in September of 1991 from cancer. He was 87 years old. In honor of his achievements, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden was opened in his Massachusetts hometown. Dr. Seuss was given a star on Hollywood Boulevard and Dartmouth first-years would start a tradition of eating green eggs and ham upon returning from their annual outing trips.

 

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Pictured above is a response Seuss wrote to a piece of fan-mail from a thirteen year old boy.

Even after the Second World War, Seuss cared about many social and global issues. His book The Lorax, published in 1971, raised concern about environmentalism and How The Grinch Stole Christmas spoke of consumerism and materialism. The first film adaptation of his work was Horton Hatches the Egg, directed by Robert Clampett of Warner Bros. in 1942. Live action films were made of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), The Cat in the Hat (2003), Horton Hears a Who! (2008) and The Lorax (2012). His work is far from forgotten and his children's books remain bestsellers for young kids. Dr. Seuss's work contains to be adapted onto stage and screen and talks of a biopic of Seuss's life remain to bubble on the surface of Hollywood's rumor mills.

"I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues."

Trailer for The Lorax

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!"

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 02 March 2014
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