It is a great achievement to have lived a robust, full and well-celebrated life but it is a greater achievement to leave a legacy that speaks louder when long gone. Dr. Seuss is one of those crazy geniuses who excelled at all that he did. He is popular for being a children’s author having written popular children’s books like Green Eggs and Ham (1960), The Cat in the Hat (1957), If I Ran the Zoo (1950) and several others. He was also a widely read poet, political cartoonist, screenwriter, illustrator, and an accomplished filmmaker.
He has received several awards and accolades for his contributions to education while alive and posthumously, among them is a 1984 special Pulitzer Prize for his contributions to children and parents’ education enjoyment.
The Life and Death of Dr. Seuss
He was born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts, the U.S. on the 2nd of March 1904. His parents Theodor Robert and Henrietta Geisel were of German ancestry. His father initially managed the family brewery until it became prohibited and he then got an appointment to supervise the public park system in Springfield.
After high school, he enrolled in Dartmouth College where he got his B.A in 1925. He began writing actively at Dartmouth and even became the editor-in-chief for the university’s humor magazine. Although he had to renegade his position and several other activities when he was caught consuming alcohol with his friends while it was prohibited. To continue to write, he began to sign off with the name Seuss.
Upon graduation, he enrolled in Lincoln College, Oxford with the intention of studying for a D.Phil in English Literature but left without graduating. He went back to the U.S in 1927 and promptly began to submit his writings and drawings to various publishers, advertising and magazines. His first published cartoon was on the 16th of July 1927 in The Saturday Evening Post. In the same year, he got a position as an illustrator and writer at Judge (a humor magazine). With his creative advertisement content, he soon began to write for magazines like Liberty, Vanity Fair, and Life. He also did advertising works for companies like Holly Sugar, Ford Motor Company and NBC Radio Network.
His first book Boners – which is a collection and compilation of children’s sayings illustrated by him – was published in 1931 by Viking Press. Encouraged by the financial and critical success of the book, he went ahead to work on and publish other books like And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, The Seven Lady Godivas, Horton Hatches the Egg and The King’s Stilts.
During the World War II Era. He began to work on political cartoons. He drew more than 400 cartoons in 2 years while he worked in New York City daily newspaper as an editorial cartoonist. He later joined the army as a captain and was made the commander of the Animation Department, First Motion Picture Unit, United States Army Air Forces.
After the war, he turned to write again and wrote several of his much-celebrated works.
Following a life well spent, Dr Seuss died at the age of 87 on the 24th of September 1991 in his La Jolla, California, U.S. home. He died of oral cancer and was cremated.
Other Facts About Dr. Seuss
1. He Never Had Children of His Own
Despite dedicating the bulk of his career to what excites and fascinates children, it is quite ironic that Theodor never had any biological children of his own, despite being married twice. His second wife revealed that he didn’t want children and was quite happy with his life and decision.
2. Mentors and Influences
Theodor has been quite vocal about people that inspired and influenced him to cultivate his writing skills. He credits Professor W. Benfield Pressey as his big inspiration for writing.
3. Exceptional Works
After a 1954 report stated that children weren’t learning because they found it boring, he teamed up with Director Houghton Mifflin to compile a list of words that every first grader should recognize. Dr. Seuss was then asked to come up with a book using only the words. This project produced the book The Cat in the Hat which sold over 452,000 copies and remains relevant to date. Some of the popular and well-received children’s books include Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
The ‘Dr’ in his pen name was legitimized in 1958 when Dartmouth awarded him an honorary doctorate.
In 1980, Dr. Seuss was awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal by the professional Children’s librarians for his lasting contributions to children’s books. He also received 2 Academy Awards, 2 Emmy Awards, and 1 Peabody Award.