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It is likely at some point in most individuals lives, they have been exposed to the books “The Cat in the Hat” or “Green Eggs and Ham”. These literary pieces are read to most students within their educational classroom experience at least once in their life. These were just a few of many great books written by Dr. Seuss, the author you use too love reading as a child or even enjoy reading to your own children. Dr. Seuss was no doubt a very talented author, but he is more than just a name affiliated to numerous amounts of popular children books. His journey to becoming one of the best-selling children’s book authors took hard work, persistence and dedication throughout his career. From the time of his early childhood, middle years, and death, Dr. Seuss accomplished many things which ultimately contributed to his overall success and his impact on the literary world today.
Theodor Seuss Geisel, later known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904 and was raised in the town of Springfield Massachusetts (“Dr. Seuss”). He grew up in a small family of five within the immediate family, and Theodor was the second child out of 3 and the only son to his father and mother Theodor Robert Geisel and Henrietta Seuss Geisel. Theodor had two sisters, his older sister was named Margaretha Christine Geisel and his youngest sister was Henrietta. Tragically, and unexpectedly his youngest sister Henrietta died when Theodor was just 3 years old due to a severe case of pneumonia (“Geisel, Theodor Seuss (“Dr. Seuss”). Not long after, America entered WW1 and things became very challenging for Theodor and his family. His parents were German American Immigrants which created some social prejudice, which is why he became so close with his older sister Margaretha. They learned together how to cope with the ongoing social issues caused by the war (“Geisel, Theodor Seuss (“Dr. Seuss”). Growing up Theodor’s father was the president of a local brewery. Shortly after, the new regulations which made selling alcohol illegal, caused his father to take on a job at their local zoo as a superintendent (‘Geisel, Theodor Seuss (“Dr. Seuss”). Being the son of a zoo superintendent, Theodore had the unique opportunity to regularly experience things not available to other public spectators, such as closer encounters with the animals, etc. This is said to be one of Theodor’s earliest influences that sparked his creativity because he would sketch the many different array of animals present at the zoo. Theodor’s mother was a significant influence that sparked his interest in English and Reading. Theodor credited his mother for helping acquire skills such as rhythm and words at an early age when she would read to him as a child (‘Geisel, Theodor Seuss (“Dr. Seuss”).
Years later around the age of 18, Theodor went on to further his education so he left home to attend college. He chose to attend Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Theodor became involved within his school and became an editor for his school’s magazine. The magazine was called “The Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern” which consisted of mostly comedy. However, this was short lived as Theodor got in trouble when he and his friends got caught drinking alcohol. At that time he was asked to leave the magazine, as well as any other extra circular activities he participated in. Secretly, Theodor continued to write for the magazine and published his work under the name “Seuss” as his signature pen name, which in the long run contributed to how he came to use the name Dr. Seuss in his literature works (Koehler). After graduating, Theodor hoped to continue his studies at Oxford University in England to acquire a doctorate degree to become an English Professor. In the meantime, he met his soon to be wife Helen Palmer. Helen Palmer not only fell in love with Theodor, but she also fell in love with his artistic skills. She was impressed by his drawing and encouraged him to pursue drawing professionally. Nevertheless, Theodor dropped out of Oxford University and returned to the United States with his finance Helen (Koehler).
Not long after returning back home to America, Theodor and Helen got married in New Jersey and started their new journey together residing in New York City. From there, Theodor started selling and illustrating for local magazines and businesses, again just like in college he added a pen name to each illustration but this time it was titled Dr. Seuss adding humor because he was a college drop-out (‘Theodor Seuss Geisel’). In the meanwhile, he started working on his first book called “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”. This was Theodor’s first debut as both a stunning artist and a writer. However, things did not go the way he had anticipated. His book was rejected by twenty-seven publishers! Theodor became discouraged until one day in 1937 he happened to run into one of his old college buddies from Dartmouth. His old classmate also happened to be an editor for a publisher called “Viking Press”. Without out hesitation he offered Theodor a contract which will fundamentally jump start his career. His book was published one year later with the editor firm “Random House” and was greatly admired because of its distinctive and captivating drawings (‘Theodor Seuss Geisel’). Shortly thereafter, many of Dr. Seuss’s works was published and started to get widely acknowledged.
In 1940, in the midst of World War II, Theodor started drawing political cartoons for a local New York newspaper called “PM”. Shortly After he joined the Army as a Captain in the Signal Corps Film Unit, where he was tasked with making documentaries and cartoons throughout the war. What seemed like a disaster at the time, was a blessing in disguise and all worth it when he later won Academy Awards for the documentaries “Hitler Lives?” (1946) and “Design for Death” (1947) (‘Theodor Seuss Geisel’). After the war ended, Theodor purchased an old deserted observation tower, which he used as his studio. According to “Geisel Theodor Seuss (“Dr. Seuss”)”, the author stated that this observation tower was where “Geisel wrote every Dr. Seuss book from “If I Ran the Zoo” (1950) to “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” (1990).” In 1954, Theodor challenged himself to write a book that only contained 225 words in an attempt to contradict an article by “Life Magazine” that criticized the illiteracy of society’s youth. The outcome was “The Cat in the Hat” published in 1957 (‘Geisel, Theodor Seuss (“Dr. Seuss”). The book had instant success and caught the attention of many teachers and children around the U.S who were dying to get their hands on it. Theodor or better known as Dr. Seuss soon after released a sequence of children’s books such as the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish”, and “Green Eggs and Ham” ((‘Geisel, Theodor Seuss (“Dr. Seuss”). Dr. Seuss continues to have a significant impact on the younger generation and influences the way they read. Nonetheless, Dr. Seuss made a name for himself as one of the best-selling children’s book authors of all time.
Dr. Seuss’s success didn’t stop there, after his former wife Helen Palmer sadly committed suicide in 1967, he got married to his second wife Audrey Stone Diamond. He then went on to write about contentious topics such as environmental threats and the arms race. These were shown through his works “The Lorax” of 1971 and “The Butter Battle Book” of 1984 (‘Geisel, Theodor Seuss (“Dr. Seuss”). Through the course of his career Dr. Seuss has been acknowledged with many outstanding awards and achievements. To list a few, he has received numerous honorary doctorate degrees from multiple university’s and he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for his contribution and impact on the education of children in the U.S. (‘Geisel, Theodor Seuss (“Dr. Seuss”). Dr. Seuss published his last book in 1990 called “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”. The book itself was not a children’s book yet it still went on to be a best-seller. In 1991, Dr. Seuss lost his battle to cancer and died at the age of eighty-seven (“Dr. Seuss”).
Overall, Dr. Seuss’s success with his literary works has made him a common household name in modern times. His love of writing and success as an author, pales in comparison to his impact on generations of youth and adults alike. He has been responsible for many children falling in love with reading, while also providing hours and hours of parent/child time as parents around the world take the time to read these wonderful books to their children and grandchildren. Teachers also find his literary works significant and expose their students to his books to encourage their love of reading. His art work and his magnificent books are his legacy that will never stop giving to others.
- ‘Dr. Seuss.’ St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture Online, Gale, 2013. Gale In Context: Biography, https://link-gale-com.db22.linccweb.org/apps/doc/K2419200347/BIC?u=lincclin_pcc&sid=BIC&xid=1d8d3708. Accessed 16 Nov. 2019.
- ‘Geisel, Theodor Seuss (“Dr. Seuss”).’ The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, edited by Kenneth T. Jackson, et al., vol. 3: 1991-1993, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2001, pp. 207-209. Gale In Context: Biography, https://link-gale-com.db22.linccweb.org/apps/doc/CX2874600118/BIC?u=lincclin_pcc&sid=BIC&xid=7c83263d. Accessed 15 Nov. 2019.
- Koehler, Christopher S. W. “Dr. Seuss.” Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia, 2019. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=88801483&site=eds-live.
- ‘Theodor Geisel.’ Encyclopedia of World Biography Online, Gale, 1998. Gale In Context: Biography, https://link-gale-com.db22.linccweb.org/apps/doc/K1631002464/BIC?u=lincclin_pcc&sid=BIC&xid=97689dba. Accessed 16 Nov. 2019.
- ‘Theodor Geisel.’ Newsmakers, Gale, 1992. Gale In Context: Biography, https://link-gale-com.db22.linccweb.org/apps/doc/K1618002340/BIC?u=lincclin_pcc&sid=BIC&xid=8b19f88a. Accessed 15 Nov. 2019.
- ‘Theodor Seuss Geisel.’ Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, Gale, 2002. Gale In Context: Biography, https://link-gale-com.db22.linccweb.org/apps/doc/K1617001313/BIC?u=lincclin_pcc&sid=BIC&xid=1885e674. Accessed 15 Nov. 2019.