Lesser Known Facts About Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss. Source: (hellogiggles.com)
It seems every Christmas there is a new film adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and we have one person to thank for that: a famous children’s author by the name of Dr. Seuss. While most people will recognize him as the author of popular children’s books such as The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, there are a few details about the man that are not common knowledge.
His last name wasn’t Seuss
This first one may not be common knowledge but could easily be guessed. After all, many writers choose to publish under pseudonyms for various reasons. What is not so easy to guess is the fact that Seuss was actually his middle name as well as his mother’s maiden name. He was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts, as Theodor Seuss Geisel. His parents were Theodor Robert Geisel and Henrietta Seuss Geisel. His mother was the daughter of Bavarian immigrants and the surname Seuss was actually pronounced as Zoice rather than Soose, as it is pronounced today.
He wasn’t a Doctor
While most people likely guessed he wasn’t a medical doctor, they may have assumed that he at least had a Ph.D. in English, which would have still earned him the title of “Dr.” But they would have assumed wrong. At least, they would be wrong in the sense that Dr. Seuss did not complete his post-graduate studies. He intended to become a professor and did attend Oxford from 1925 to 1926 after graduating from Dartmouth College. However, he spent more time doodling than taking notes and, following the advice of his future wife, Helen Palmer, he dropped out of Oxford to become a cartoonist. He did, however, receive an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth in 1955.
He started out in advertising.
Early attempts at making it as a cartoonist were not met with much success. However, a punchline in a 1928 issue of Judge magazine in which he referenced a popular insecticide called Flit earned him a job writing ads for Standard Oil, the makers of Flit. His catchphrase, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” became so popular that there was even a song based on it. The advertising business was Seuss’s main source of income for thirty years and he worked for such companies as NBC, Ford, and General Electric among others.
He Had No Children of His Own
When asked why he wrote children’s books, Seuss often responded with a joke; however, he wrote his first children’s book the same year Helen learned she could not have children. Adding humor to an otherwise sad situation, he created an imaginary daughter named Chrysanthemum Pearl and would brag about her accomplishment to friends who boasted about their own children. He even dedicated his second children’s book to her. His annual Christmas cards included her and other fictional children named Norval, Wally, Wickersham, Miggles, and Boo-Boo among others. One year, he invited the neighborhood children to pose as his and Helen’s children in a photograph to use on that year’s Christmas card. In 1967, after years of battling cancer, Helen committed suicide. The following year, Seuss married Audrey Stone and gained two stepdaughters.
He was Immortalized in Stone
Like Hans Christian Andersen and Mark Twain, Dr. Seuss is one of few writers of children’s literature to have a statue made in their likeness. A bronze statue of Seuss sitting next to the Cat in the Hat can be seen at the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden in Springfield, Massachusetts. Also in the garden are statues of several creatures from his stories. In addition to this honor, Seuss also won several awards, including a Pulitzer, an Academy Award, three Emmys, and three Grammys, before his death on September 24, 1991, in La Jolla, California.
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