Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) – Biography

 

Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) – Biography

Dr. Seuss – The American Children’s Author and Cartoonist (Image Source)

 

The Writing Legend Dr. Seuss

What shall we do if we’ll get rejected around 27 times for doing something that we really want to do? Most probably, we will quit. Dr. Seuss proved the quote correct that “Winners never quit, and quitters never win” when he finally published his first book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” after around 27 rejections from various publishers.

Quick Facts

Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 02, 1904 to September 24, 1991), most commonly known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, was an American children’s author, cartoonist, and animator. Geisel wrote and published over 60 books during his lifetime. He won numerous awards like Pulitzer Prize in 1984, two Academy awards, two Emmys Awards, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal. He was someone without whose creative books the childhood of every child in the United States was incomplete.

Early Life

Geisel Joined the Dartmouth College from where he completed his graduation in B.A., in the year 1925. While he was in Dartmouth College, he joined the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and the humor magazine Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern where he eventually promoted to the post of editor-in-chief. In Dartmouth Geisel caught drinking Jin with nine of his friends in the room when consumption of alcohol was illegal under Prohibition laws. Geisel had to suffer a lot because of it. He had been insisted by Dean Craven Laycock to resign from Jack-O-Lantern along with his all extra curriculum activities. In the end, Geisel started signing his works with the pen name “Seuss” to work with the magazine without the administration’s knowledge.

After his graduation from Dartmouth College in 1925, he joined the Lincoln College, Oxford with an intention to complete a Doctor of Philosophy in English literature. Geisel met Helen Palmer at Oxford who encouraged him to start drawing as a career instead of becoming an English teacher after looking into the notebook of Geisel which were always filled with the amazing animations.

Initial Career

Being inspired by Helen, he decided to start his career as a drawing artist. He left Oxford without getting the degree and return to the United States in the year 1927. Without wasting time he immediately started submitting drawings and writings to various magazines, advertising agencies, book publishers etc. Initially, he got rejections from all the places but as we all know “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. After some unsuccessful trials, his first nationally published cartoon appeared on 16th of July, 1927, at The Saturday Evening Post. Although his first earning from it were $25 only but it encouraged him a lot to move from Springfield to New York City. Till the end of the year 1927, Geisel signed a job of illustrator and writer at the humor magazine Judge. His first cartoon with Judge appeared on 22nd October 1927. By that time Geisel felt himself to be financially strong enough to marry Helen. Finally, Geisel got married on 29th November 1927.

Career from Advertising Work

In early 1928, a new era for Geisel began. Geisel got an offer from Flit to advertise for them. At that time Geisel was working for Judge. According to Geisel, the wife of the advertising executive in charge of adverting Flit saw Geisel’s cartoons and requested her husband to sign him. Geisel joined Flit and his first advertisement for them appeared on 31st May 1928. This journey continued until 1941.

Geisel’s work was in demand and he worked for various other magazines as well. Out of his advertising career, Geisel earned a lot of money which increased his standard of living. He made a lot of rich friends from higher societies and made a lot of travel with his wife by 1936. They had traveled around 30 countries together.

The Rise of World War II

With the beginning of World War II, Geisel moved to political cartoons and drawings. He made over 400 cartoons and drawings as an editorial cartoonist in two years for the left-leaning New York City daily newspaper, PM. These political cartoons, later on, were published in Dr. Seuss Goes to War which recriminated Hitler and Mussolini. Geisel’s cartoons were strongly supportive of President Roosevelt’s techniques of handling the war.

By 1942, Geisel had totally been in an opinion to support the U.S. war efforts. For the fulfillment of his purpose, he first made large numbers of drawing posters for the treasury department and the War Production Board and then in 1943, he joined the army as a Captain where he was the commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. There he wrote multiple films which include Our Job in Japan, Your Job in Germany, and a series of adult army training film Private Snafu.

While in the army he was awarded the Legion of Merit. The film Design for Death (1947), a study of Japanese culture, was based on Our Job in Japan that won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Based on an original story, Dr. Seuss wrote Gerald MCBoing-Boing (1950) that won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Life after World War II (The Later Life)

After World War II Dr. Seuss returned back to La Jolla, California with his wife to entertain the small children again. He was in believe that children are one of the most beautiful creations of God and the adults are the obsolete children. For the rest of his life, Dr. Seuss wrote various books for children. He gave some of his most fabulous books during this time only. Some of which were:

(1) If I Ran the Zoo (1950)

(2) Horton Hears a Who! (1955)

(3) If I Ran the Circus (1956)

(4) The Cat in the Hat (1957)

(5) How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957)

(6) Green Eggs and Ham (1960) etc.

He got a very positive response from all these books. Children of that era started loving his books. A large number of copies for all these books were sold out in the market leaving other children’s books behind. Dr. Seuss also wrote various illustrated short stories during the 1950s, mostly in Redbook Magazine. He wrote lots of other children’s books using very simplified vocabulary to ease the reading for the beginner readers, sold as Beginner Books. In 1956, Seuss finally awarded with an honorary doctorate by Dartmouth, justifying the “Dr.” in his pen name. Dr. Seuss was awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal from the professional children’s librarians in 1980, for his “substantial and lasting contributions to children’s literature”. In the year 1984, he also won a special Pulitzer Prize for his “contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of America’s children and their parents”.

Personal Life

There always used to be a dark side under the object blazing the whole world. Similarly, happiness and pain both are part of life. During those days Helen, the wife of Dr. Seuss, was struggling from illnesses. She was suffering from cancer and emotional pain because of the external affairs of Mr. Seuss with Audrey Stone Dimond. Finally, on 23rd October 1967, Helen committed suicide.

Later on, Geisel married Dimond on 21st June 1968. Instead of the fact that Seuss spent most of his time writing books for children, he didn’t have any child of his own. Though, he was happy in his life spending all his time writing for children.

Death

Seuss was suffering from oral cancer during his last days. Finally, on 24th September 1991, he closed his eyes forever at the age of 87 in his home at La Jolla.

Posthumous Honors

On 1st of December, 1995, the University Library Building of University of California, San Diego was renamed as Geisel Library in the honor of Geisel. The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden opened in Geisel’s birthplace of Springfield, Massachusetts in the year 2002, featuring sculptures of Geisel and many of his characters.

Author’s Opinion

Rather than choosing for any other profession for livelihood Dr. Seuss followed his passion. As a result of which he got great success in his life. He proved the fact that rather than choosing any work just for money one who follows his heart doesn’t only achieve great success in life but also serve the society at large. Although he got success on various tasks, he is most famously known among the kinds of the U.S. Without the books of Dr. Seuss, the childhood of every single kid, especially in the U.S. is incomplete!!

Quotes by Dr. Seuss

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dream.”


“When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.”

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”


“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!”


“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”


“You have to be odd to be number one.”


“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.”


“I am weird, you are weird. Everyone in this world is weird. One day two people come together in mutual weirdness and fall in love.”

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”


“Oh, the things you can find, if you don’t stay behind!”

Some Unknown Rear Facts

  • Dr. Seuss’s friend bet that he couldn’t write a book using just 50 different words and the book “Green Eggs and Ham” come into existence.

  • He had a collection of various wacky hats. Whenever he was feeling trouble while writing, he’d put on a suitable hat to continue the flow of his writing.

  • The book “Cat in the Hat” wrote down using only 236 different words but it took over a year to complete it.

  • He was commonly known by the name Dr. Seuss or by Geisel but his friends used to call him “Ted.”

  • He also published 44 picture books along with the other books before he died.

  • Dr. Seuss wanted the children to start reading early.

  • Dr. Seuss was not a doctor of anything. Even he didn’t had any doctorate degree until he had been awarded with an honorary doctorate finally justifying the “Dr.” in his name.

 

Written By: Avishekh Tiwari

READ ALSO:  Alexander Graham Bell – The Person behind the World Changing Invention "The Telephone"

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