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Lincoln College

Dr. Seuss (1904 - 1991)

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2nd 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts.  He was the son of Theodor R. Geisel, the Superintendant of the City's Parks.  After graduation from the Central High School, he completed his undergraduate work at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire.  Here he took advantage of all the facilities present, particularly the winter sports such as skiing.  After he graduated in 1925 he spent some time writing a column for the Springfield Union, before starting his postgraduate work as a student of English Literature at Lincoln College, Oxford.  While finding a course in the punctuation of Shakespeare dull, he began to draw pictures and doodles during his lectures.  It was here that he found he had a real talent for cartooning.  Subsequently, in a period of travel around Europe, he wrote his first, as yet unpublished novel.  On his return to the U.S., Geisel began to draw in earnest, becoming a freelance cartoonist and illustrator.  It was here he coined his pen-name Dr. Seuss.  It originated from his mother's maiden name and the long-coveted Ph.D. that he never got round to earning.  In November 1927, after his first real break, he married Helen Palmer who was a classmate of his at Oxford.

green eggs and hamAnd to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street (1937) was the first of his many children's books which he both wrote and illustrated.  This was followed by the classic Horton Hatches the Egg in 1940, the story of an elephant duped by a bird to sit on her egg.  After service in the army during World War II, Geisel went into advertising for a while, and became a highly successful political cartoonist for PM, a New York based newspaper.  Eventually in 1957, he began to write a series of Beginner Books  intended to help teach basic reading skills.  These began with the much-loved The Cat in The Hat in 1958, which was closely followed by Green Eggs and Ham, in 1960.  His engaging rhymed narratives blend with the imaginative illustrations of his bizarre fantasy world.  However, his books can best be identified by their unique brand of humour and the wacky characters.  He produced  44 children's books in all which also have a large, devoted adult following.  By 1970, 30 million copies of his books had been sold in the USA alone, and the name of Seuss had become synonymous with learning to read.  By his death, he had sold more than 100 million copies in 18 languages.  He received a special Pulitzer Prize citation in 1984 for his lifetime contribution to the education and enjoyment of America's children and their parents.

A person's a person, no matter how small!  Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained, and delighted."   It was this respectful attitude towards children that helped make his books so popular.

The story How The Grinch Stole Christmas, written in 1957, was made into an animated cartoon for television and now a major Hollywood blockbuster starring Jim Carrey.  He also wrote the screenplay for the cartoon Gerald McBoing Boing;.  This classic animation won an Academy Award in 1951.  Subsequently, he continued to make animated cartoons for television, many of which were based on his books.

However, Geisel did not confine himself to children's books.  He also made documentary films, such as Hitler Lives (1946) and Design for Death (1947) with his wife, both of which won Academy Awards.  His last books were for adults, including the bestsellers, You're Only Old Once!  (1986), and Oh, the Places You'll Go! (1990).  The children's book Daisy-Head Maysie was published posthumously in 1995, based upon sketches and dialogues that Geisel had created for an animated television special.

 

 


 

sam i am"I do not like them in a house.
I do not like them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham.
I do not like them, Sam-I-am."

Green Eggs and Ham.