The Life of the Beloved Dr. Seuss

Known for his vibrant and silly children stories such as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and Oh, the Places You’ll Go. His children’s books have become classics that have been passed down to new generations. Today we’d like to take a look at his life.

Born Theodor Seuss Geisel, Seuss was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 2nd, 1904. After graduating high school, Theodor went onto attend Dartmouth College. He began working as the editor in chief for the Jack-O-Lantern, the schools humor magazine. When Theodor graduated from Dartmouth he enrolled at Oxford University with the hopes of becoming a professor. However, Seuss did not stay at Oxford long, he dropped out of school in 1927.

After dropping out of Oxford, Seuss moved back to the United States with his new wife Helen Palmer. Seuss eventually abandoned the idea of becoming a professor and instead began pursuing a career as a cartoonist. Many publishers loved his work and his illustrations were published in popular magazines such as LIFE and Vanity Fair. In July 1927, Theodor published an illustration under the pen name “Seuss” in the Saturday Evening Post, coining a name that the world would never forget. His work as an illustrator took the back seat when the author landed an advertising job with Standard Oil. Seuss spent the next fifteen years working for Standard Oil creating popular ads.

Viking Press became very interested in Theodor’s artwork and offered him a job illustrating a collection of children’s stories titled Boners. Unfortunately, the series didn’t do well, but gave Seuss a good look at children’s publishing. In 1937, Dr. Seuss published his first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street. The book was rejected 27 times before Vanguard Press finally published it.

Unfortunately, World War II began and Seuss’s writing was put on hold. During the war, Seuss contributed his illustrations to a magazine called PM Magazine. Since Seuss was too old to be drafted, he instead served Frank Capra’s Signal Corps. While serving, Seuss made animated films and drew propaganda posters for the War Production Board.

When the war finally ended, Seuss and his wife Helen moved to La Jolla, California where Seuss was able to write every day. His new home became an inspiration for him and in the years that followed he wrote popular books such as If I Ran the Zoo and Horton Hears a Who. Theodor’s work was finally put on the map when publishing houses Houghton Mifflin and Random House asked him to write a book. The publishing companies required that Theodor include 220 vocabulary words in his story. The final product is known as one of Seuss classics, The Cat in the Hat. The book was published in 1957 and has grown to be one of the most popular children’s books since its publication.

The success of The Cat in the Hat allowed Seuss to continue writing children’s stories. He went on to write other classics such as Green Eggs and Ham and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. 

On September 24th, 1991 Dr. Seuss died at the age of 87. The author brought unique and colorful stories into the world. Sixteen of his children’s novels were placed on Publishers Weekly’s list of 100 Top-Selling Hardcover Children’s Books of All-Time. His books are loved by many and will continue to be passed on to new generations.