I know very few parents who, when reading their child’s favourite “Dr Seuss” story, have resisted the temptation to give their version of the voice of The Cat in The Hat, The Grinch or The Lorax. My kids – or should that be my – favourites “Green Eggs and Ham” (published in August 1960) – and the voice of “Sam-I-Am” – has also ticked the right boxes with loads of other families, because as of 2001 it was the fourth best-selling English-language children’s book of all time!
So who is the author and illustrator responsible for these iconic, wry, whymsical and much loved books?
Today, March 2nd, is the anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel in 1904,in Springfield (Mass. USA), who’s better known to generations of story-time devotees by his pen-name of “Dr Seuss”. During his long career he published 48 books which have sold in excess of 200 million copies and have been translated into over 20 languages.
Geisel adopted his pen-name,”Dr. Seuss” – his Mother’s maiden name – whilst at University. He attended Dartmouth College – who’s School of Medicine now bears his name. He left Oxford University in 1927 finding work as an illustrator and cartoonist for Vanity Fair and Life magazines and as a commercial artist in New York’s advertising business.
In 1937 he wrote and illustrated his first children’s book “Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”. These were followed The Cat in the Hat (1957), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957), and Green Eggs and Ham (1960). In his later years he also tackled more serious issues, such as the environment, with “Lorax” published in 1971.
He won many awards for his work including a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and three Oscars in the 1950’s.
In America, March 2 has been adopted as the annual National Read Across America Day, and in the UK, by coincidence, today is World Book Day – being the first Thursday in March – I wonder how many tall, red and white hats will be making they way to and from schools today?
In 1948 Geisel and his first wife Helen, settled in San Diego’s beautiful seaside community of La Jolla (California, USA), died on September 24, 1991, aged 87. Sadly, Dr Seuss himself never became a father.