Theodor Seuss Geisel

by Taylor from San Diego

"Today you are you, that is truer than true, there is no one alive who is youer than you."
Theodor Seuss Geisel (
Theodor Seuss Geisel (

I Meant What I Said and I Said What I Meant

Among the ranks of heroes that have changed the literary world, there is one renowned man who created whimsical masterpieces that hold their own in millions of people’s childhoods. He was an author who could tell a story using as little as fifty words and will remain in the heart of the mass reading population for ages to come. This single man teaches many people many valuable lessons about love and mankind, yet around the world the children who delve into the color and magic this man created probably could not even tell you his real name — Theodor Geisel. Known to children and many “grown ups” as Dr. Seuss.

Underneath the pseudonym "Dr. Seuss" existed a man named Theodor Seuss Geisel, who was writing small articles and drawing ads and political cartoons years before the idea struck him to write his first children’s books in 1936 (titled And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street,). Witty Theodor, called “Ted”, was born March 2nd 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of brewer Theodor Robert Geisel, and grew up reading books by Hilaire Belloc, illustrated by Lord Ian Basil Temple Blackwood. These books (such as The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts, and More Beasts for Worse Children) would greatly influence Ted throughout his career—“Belloc had a tendency to misspell words just for the fun of it or make up names in order to finish a rhyme” (Cohen, 21), which is something that Dr. Seuss became famous for. Blackwood’s images inspired him just as well. For example, More Beasts portrays a picture of a goat standing precariously atop a peak of a mountain, an image that would reappear throughout Ted’s art and books for decades.(Cohen 16-19)

Seuss's alter-ego, The Cat (Dr. Seuss Art)
Seuss's alter-ego, The Cat (Dr. Seuss Art)

Yet the way that Belloc and Blackwood’s books inspired Ted is pale in comparison to the way that Ted grew up to inspire millions of people. “‘Finally, I can say that I write not for kids but for people,’ he [Ted Geisel] commented in the Los Angeles Time” (Mooney). Children were generally uninterested with books for their age until Dr. Seuss came along with his plot twists, simple words, and outlandish creatures to captivate children from that generation to ours. With his book The Cat In The Hat, “The Cat provided an attractive alternative to the simplistic ‘Dick and Jane’ primers then in use in American schools” (LA Auditions), and the many more books to follow were credited to changing the world of children’s literature. For what seemed to be the first time, children were eager to be reading and buried their noses into Dr. Seuss’s stories. “Though Dr. Seuss books sometimes included morals, they sounded less like behavior guidelines and more like ‘listen to your feelings’ and ‘take care of the environment’” (Bourgion). Children are now positively influenced by this — they learn from Green Eggs and Ham to try something new, or from Oh The Places You’ll Go! that you can be destined for success and to be optimistic even through the obstacles life gives you. How The Grinch Stole Christmas, later turned into a movie starring Jim Carrey, teaches beyond the meaning of Christmas and touches upon the idea of love and what it is like when the heart is “two sizes too small”. His books grow up with us and should be kept close at hand to remind us of the simple values we were taught as a child and to encourage us along the way. Truly, Dr. Seuss stays on our bookshelves and in our hearts.

Titled Freebird. (
Titled Freebird. (

But Ted Geisel’s inspiration goes much farther than the fun and color of his pictures and poetry. He remains extremely famous and children around the world adore him, with forty-seven books published that are translated into more than fifteen different languages and top the best-selling book lists with more than two hundred million copies sold. Yet his first book, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, faced rejection by nearly thirty publishers before Random House Publishing took the chance of him. Under Random House, Ted founded Beginner Books, a “publishing company specializing in easy-to-read books for children”, describes LA Auditions. Once, his Random House publisher bet Ted fifty-dollars that he could not write a book using only fifty words. Taking the challenge, he succeeded in the creation of Green Eggs and Ham, which is recognized as the fourth best-selling children’s book (and his publisher never paid the bet). Even more, announces Seussville, the official site for Dr. Seuss’s work, Ted continues to help people as with the Dr. Seuss Red Cross American event. Separate, The Dr. Seuss Fund was created by his wife, Audrey Geisel, to “support a variety of causes they [Ted and Audrey] cared about” (The San Diego Foundation). Even after his death on September 24th 1991 from cancer, his brilliant legacy continues on.

Theodor Seuss Geisel lived as a brilliant man who made up fantastical stories and helped enrich the imagination of children throughout the decades. He hid all of his secrets and instructions to being a genius (perhaps stowed underneath the red and white striped hat?) but left behind his timeless work and inspiration. Through his many books and wider contributions to the world, he is adored by millions of children and made a hero by as many adults. Theodor Geisel, the dear Dr. Seuss, will stay forever with us in our hearts that “grew three sizes that day!”.

Page created on 2/14/2010 12:24:30 PM

Last edited 2/14/2010 12:24:30 PM

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Related Links

Seussville - Official site for Dr. Seuss
LA Auditions - Dr. Seuss Biography
Quotes Daddy - Collection of Quotes by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss Art - Collection of art on sale by Dr. Seuss