Whether you're a fan of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish or someone who enjoys reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas each holiday season, a Dr. Seuss biography can be a useful tool for learning more about the man behind these popular stories.
A Brief Dr. Seuss Biography
Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He attended Dartmouth College and was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He also wrote for the humor magazine the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, eventually becoming editor-in-chief. It was during this time he first began using the pen name Dr. Seuss. After being caught drinking gin in his dorm room, he was told to resign from all extracurricular activities. Since he enjoyed working on the magazine so much, he began writing under a pen name in order to continue publishing his articles without the administration's knowledge.
After Dartmouth, Dr. Seuss enrolled at the University of Oxford to earn his Doctor of Philosophy in Literature. However, after meeting his first wife Helen Palmer, he decided to return to the U.S. without finishing his coursework and begin submitting articles to publications such as Judge, The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Vanity Fair, and Liberty. He also worked in advertising and drew comic strips in order to support himself and his wife through the Great Depression. His first children's book, And to Think I Saw it On Mulberry Street was published in 1937. Three other books quickly followed.
When World War II began, Dr. Seuss turned his energies to drawing political cartoons and posters in support of the war effort. In 1943, he joined the Army and served as commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces - a job that had him writing various training films and documentaries.
After the war, Dr. Seuss and his first wife moved to California. He began to focus on writing children's books once more. His style was defined by colorful illustrations made with pencil or watercolors, simple stories, and text written in anapestic tetrameter. During this time, a report came out stating that children were having trouble learning to read because the books available to them weren't very interesting. Dr. Seuss worked with his publisher to create a list of 250 essential words for children to know, later turning the list into The Cat in the Hat.
Although Dr. Seuss claimed to never write stories with a specific moral in mind, many of his children's books are widely recognized as fables with moral lessons. The Sneetches, published in 1961, is thought to be a story about racial equality. The Lorax, published in 1971, is thought to be about environmentalism and anti-consumerism. Horton Hears a Who! is often said to be a pro-life statement, although Dr. Seuss's estate says that was not his intention with the work.
In 1967, Dr. Seuss's first wife committed suicide after a long illness. He married his second wife, Audrey Stone Dimond, one year later. Dr. Seuss never had children, even though he spent the vast majority of his life writing stories for young people and working on various charitable efforts to enhance children's literacy.
Dr. Seuss passed away on September 24, 1991 after several years of illness. Over the course of his career, he had written and illustrated 44 children's books that had sold more than 200 million copies in 15 different languages. When Publishers Weekly released a list of the best selling 100 children's books of all time in 2000, Dr. Seuss wrote 16 of the titles.