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Veteran Times Writer

All About Dr. Seuss

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When many of us were little, we loved reading books written by Dr. Seuss and going on adventures with the silly and funny characters he created. Many of us know Dr. Seuss through his books, but do any of us really know about Dr. Seuss himself? For example, did you know that Dr. Seuss broke the rules in college? Or that his first book was rejected 27 times? Do you know there is a sculpture garden in Springfield, Massachusetts in his honor?

"Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."--Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2nd, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts to Theodor Robert and Henrietta Seuss Geisel. He attended Dartmouth College where he was the editor-in-chief of the Jack-O-Lantern, Dartmouth's humor magazine. But this role was short-lived when he and his friends were caught throwing a drinking party, which was against school policy and the prohibition laws at the time. As a punishment, he was banned from participating in extracurricular activities. But, Theodor still wanted to write for the humor magazine so he wrote under the pseudonym "Seuss".

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."--Dr. Seuss

Upon graduation, Theodor attended Oxford University in England where he met his first wife, Helen Palmer who later became a children's book author. Theodor's time at Oxford was short-lived because he was bored by academics; hence, he toured Europe. When he returned to the US, he became a cartoonist and created advertising campaigns for Standard Oil for fifteen years. Theodor's cartoons were printed in various publications such as Life and Vanity Fair. When World War II began, Theodor wanted to serve for his country but he was too old for the draft; hence, he made training movies instead. This is when he was first introduced to animation.

"Be awesome! Be a book nut!"--Dr. Seuss

Theodor's "big break" into children's literature came when Viking Press took note of his work and presented him with a contract to illustrate a children's book. The book was unsuccessful; however, Theodor's illustrations were well received by the public. The first book Theodor wrote was called "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street"; the book was rejected by 27 publishers before finally being published by Vanguard Press. Theodor created his best-known book, "The Cat in the Hat" after Vanguard Press challenged him to write a children's book using only 250 words that were important for first graders to know; Theodor wrote the book using 236 words. Throughout his career, Theodor wrote and illustrated 44 children's books that were published into 200 million copies and translated into over 15 languages His books include "Green Eggs and Ham", "Horton Hears a Who!", "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", and "The Lorax".

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

In 1967, Theodor's wife Helen Palmer passed away; he later married his friend Audrey Stone. On September 24th, 1991 Theodor died of throat cancer at the age of 87. After his death, Audrey Stone supported the Springfield Library and Museums Association's project to create sculptures in honor of Theodor; Audrey also made a donation to the project. The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield, Massachusetts has sculptures of Dr. Seuss characters throughout its museums and surrounding locations. The sculptures were designed by Theodor's step-daughter, Lark Grey Dimond-Cates, who is sculptor. Although Theodor is no longer with us, his stories will always live in our hearts and continue to inspire future generations of children.


Author's Note: Sources:


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