Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904 - 1991
Photo by New York World-Telegram and Sun staff (1957)
Born: 2 March 1904, Springfield, Massachusetts
Died: 24 September 1991, San Diego, California
Geisel's grandparents were German immigrants, his father (also Theodor) managed the family brewery until Prohibition and managed Springfield's public parks after the brewery closed. Geisel took an art class and managed the soccer team at Springfield Central High School, graduating in 1921, then went to Dartmouth College where he worked on the humor magazine, Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, at one time serving as editor-in-chief. That time ended when he was caught drinking gin in his dorm room, for which he was barred from all extracurricular activities. To evade the administration, he continued to submit work, signed with the name "Seuss". After graduating in 1925 he went to Lincoln College, Oxford with plans to earn a PhD in English literature, but Helen Palmer suggested he would be better off drawing than teaching English so he returned to the US where he landed a job as a writer and illustrator at Judge. Two months later he married Helen, soon he was signing his work "Dr. Seuss". He did well drawing for advertisers such as Flit (the insecticide), General Electric, NBC, and Standard Oil. In 1936 he wrote a poem inspired by the rhythm of the engines on an ocean voyage to Europe, it became his first children's book: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, which was rejected by 20 to 43 publishers before it was published by Vanguard. During the war his work turned political, he was commissioned a captain in the Army and commanded the First Motion Picture Unit of the US Army Air Forces. In 1954 the education division of Houghton Mifflin gave Geisel a list of 348 words that first graders should know and challenged him to cut that to 250 and write a book using only those words: The Cat in the Hat was published in 1957 with 220 words. He wrote and illustrated over forty titles, another dozen titles that were illustrated by others were signed "Theo. LeSieg" (Geisel backwards), and one by "Rosetta Stone". He died of oral cancer at his La Jolla, California home, where he had moved after the war. Geisel had no children, saying "You have 'em; I'll entertain 'em.".
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
Theodor Seuss Geisel quotes:
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- A kid is a guy I never wrote down to. He's interested in what I say if I make it interesting. permalink
- Adults are just obsolete children, and the hell with them. permalink
quoted by Thomas Fensch in Of Sneetches and Whos and the Good Dr. Seuss: Essays on the Writings and Life of Theodor Geisel (1997)
- ASAP. Whatever that means. It must mean, 'Act swiftly awesome pachyderm! permalink
- Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind. permalink
- Children's reading and children's thinking are the rock-bottom base upon which this country will rise. Or not rise. In these days of tension and confusion, writers are beginning to realize that books for children have a greater potential for good or evil than any other form of literature on earth. permalink
- From there to here and here to there,
funny things are everywhere. permalink
- I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I've bought a big bat.
I'm all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me! permalink
- I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope and that enables you to laugh at all of life's realities. permalink
- I meant what I said,
and I said what I meant.
An elephant's faithful, one hundred percent. permalink
Horton Hatches the Egg (1940)
- I start drawing, and eventually the characters involve themselves in a situation. Then in the end, I go back and try to cut out most of the preachments. permalink
- If I were invited to a dinner party with my characters, I wouldn't show up. permalink
- "Maybe Christmas", he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!" permalink
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957)
- Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. And it helps develop a sense of humor, which is awfully important in this day and age. Humor has a tremendous place in this sordid world. It's more than just a matter of laughing. If you can see things out of whack, then you can see how things can be in whack. permalink
"Author Isn't Just a Cat in the Hat" interview by Miles Corwin, The Los Angeles Times (27 November 1983)
- Preachers in pulpits talked about what a great message is in the book. No matter what you do, somebody always imputes meaning into your books. permalink
- So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads. permalink
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