Today, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known by his pen name Dr. Seuss, turns 113. The beloved American children’s book writer penned close to 50 children’s books, including Horton Hear a Who! (1950), The Cat in the Hat (1957) and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957). Several of Dr. Seuss’ works are among the most popular children’s books of all time. At the time of his death in 1991, his books had sold more than 600 million copies and had been translated into over 20 different languages. Below we’ve gathered five fun facts about the author in honor of the author’s birthday.
1.) Dr. Seuss came from a family of beer brewing German immigrants
Dr. Seuss’ father, Theodor Robert Geisel, was a brewer born into a family of German immigrants with a strong brewing tradition. Although the Geisels vocally supported the US war effort during World War I, the family still had to endure their share of racial slurs because of their heritage. Although the family’s prosperous beer brewing business was brought to a halt during prohibition, Theodor Geisel senior went on to work happily as a park superintendent.
2.) Dr. Seuss was an avid doodler from an early age
Seuss already started doodling as a young child. As he went through school, his drawings became more wild and bizarre, and became full of many strange creatures and contraptions like the kind his work was later known for. Although he kept drawing, after he graduated from Dartmouth College, Seuss left for Oxford to pursue a Ph.D in English literature. At Oxford, he met Helen Palmer, a fellow American; the couple married in 1927. Sure her husband was an artist, not an academic, Helen encouraged him in his drawing.
In February 1927, Seuss left Oxford without finishing his degree. He returned to the United States and immediately began submitting his writing and cartoons to different magazines and publications. On July 16 of the same year, Seuss had his first nationally published cartoon, which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post. The magazine paid him $25 for the cartoon, and this minor success inspired him to move from Springfield, Massachusetts to New York City.
3.) Dr. Seuss had dreams of writing the “Great American Novel”
Seuss was not only interested in gaining an advanced degree in English literature, he also had literary ambitions of his own. In fact, Seuss chose to use a pen name for his children’s book because he was saving the name “Geisel” for the Great American Novel he planned to write one day. In the 1950s, influential writers were arguing many children weren’t interested in reading because early readers of the Dick and Jane variety available at the time were incredibly boring. This inspired Seuss to create The Cat in the Hat, published in 1957. From that time forward, children’s early readers would never be the same.
4.) Dr. Seuss was a private person who had no children
For all the colorful and expressive zaniness of his work, Seuss was an introverted person who was often prone to secrecy. The main biographical source for his private life is the book, Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel, which was written by his personal friends, Judith and Neil Morgan. Although his books have captured the hearts and minds of millions of children the world over, and will continue to do so in the future, Seuss and his wife had no children of their own.
5.) His birthday, March 2, is National Read Across America Day
Dr. Seuss’ birthday is the date the National Education Association chose for National Read Across America Day, a project designed to encourage children to read. To read more about National Read Across America Day, check out the Inquisitr’s article, Dr. Seuss And Read Across America: It’s About More Than Children’s Literature.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! You’re one in a million.
[Featured Image by Vince Bucci/Getty Images]