Sunday, July 27, 2014

Things You Didn't Know About the Creative Genius Dr. Seuss!

A grandson of German immigrants, Theodor (without an “e”) was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2, 1904. Seuss was his mother’s maiden name. While the actual German pronunciation of “Seuss” rhymed with “voice,” the American pronunciation, rhyming with “juice,” stuck.

You’re wrong as the deuce/ And you shouldn’t rejoice/ If you’re calling him Seuss./ He pronounces it Soice. 

2. Theodor Geisel began using the pen name "Seuss" after being kicked off of the Dartmouth College literary humor magazine for throwing a rowdy drinks party!

When the sassy young Mr. Geisel was caught hosting an adult beverage get-together at Dartmouth College at the height of Prohibition (the early 20s), he was instructed by the college staff to discontinue all of his extracurricular activites, including his editor-in-chief post at the college's humor magazine, the "Jack-O-Lantern." In order to keep writing without the superiors knowing about it, Mr. Geisel adopted the pen name "Seuss."

Dr. Seuss was for the books he both wrote and illustrated. Theo LeSeig was for books that he wrote without illustrating

3. Mr. Geisel added the "Dr" onto his Seuss pen name as a nod to his father's unfulfilled wish for his son to earn a doctorate at Oxford

Mr. Geisel, senior, had always wanted for his son to earn a doctorate at Oxford. Although Geisel, the Younger, entered Lincoln College, Oxford with the intention of completing a doctorate in literature, he returned to the United States before his studies were completed. He added the "Dr" onto his Seuss pen name as a wry acknowledgment of his almost-achievement.

4. Mr. Geisel/Dr. Seuss first rose to national fame, not as a children's book author, but as the creator of a number of wildly popular insecticide advertisements

In the late 1920s, Standard Oil hired Theodor Geisel to create a number of advertisements for its insecticide, Flit. Mr. Geisel's cartoon-like ads, along with taglines such as "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" "Swat the Fly," and "Kill the Tick," became nationally recognized slogans. Mr. Geisel made a tidy packet on these ads which remained popular throughout the 1930s.

5. Mr. Geisel/Dr. Seuss was inspired to write his first children's book, And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, by the rhythmic sound of a ship's engine

In 1937, Mr. Geisel and his wife, Helen, were returning to the United States from an ocean trip to Europe when the rhythmic sound of the ship's engine suggested to him the idea of writing an equally rhythmic text for a children's book. The result was his first foray into children's literature, And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

6. Dr. Seuss' first book, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, was initially rejected by over 20 publishers before finally making it to the printing press

Dr. Seuss may be considered classy children's lit today but when he was first starting out, he could scarely get any serious consideration. After sending the And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street manuscript to nearly 30 publishers (and receiving an equal number of rejections), Vanguard Press finally agreed to publish the book.

He almost burned the book because 27 publishers rejected him!

After a 27th publisher rejected his first manuscript, Dr. Seuss walked dejectedly along the sidewalks of New York, planning to burn the book in his apartment incinerator. On Madison Avenue, however, he bumped into Dartmouth friend Mike McClintock, who that very morning had started a job as an editor in the Vanguard Press children’s section. Within hours, the men signed a contract, and in 1937 Vanguard Press published “And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” which launched the extraordinary literary career of Dr. Seuss. “If I had been going down the other side of Madison Avenue, I’d be in the dry-cleaning business today,” he later said.

7. Dr. Seuss' most famous books -- beginner books such as The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and Green Eggs and Ham -- were also some of the most difficult things he ever wrote.

Great writers always share one common characteristic -- they make writing well seem easy. Nothing could be further from the truth. And while tomes like Hop on Pop and Fox in Socks may seem ridiculously simple to write, Dr. Seuss labored for months on the production of each of these supposedly "Beginner readers."

8. If I Ran the Zoo, published in 1950, is the first recorded instance of the word “nerd.”

9. The Cat in the Hat was written basically because Dr. Seuss thought the famous Dick and Jane primers were insanely boring. Because kids weren’t interested in the material, they weren’t exactly compelled to use it repeatedly in their efforts to learn to read.

Theodore Seuss Geisel, also known as "Dr. Seuss," in his studio.

10. Green Eggs and Ham. Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss’ editor, bet him that he couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less. The Cat in the Hat was pretty simple, after all, and it used 225 words. Not one to back down from a challenge, Mr. Geisel started writing and came up with Green Eggs and Ham – which uses exactly 50 words. The 50 words, by the way, are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

11. Oh The Places You’ll Go is Dr. Seuss’ final book, published in 1990. It sells about 300,000 copies every year because so many people give it to college and high school grads.

12. No Dr. Seuss post would be complete without a mention of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! I couldn’t find much on the book, however, so here are a few facts about the Dr. Seuss-sanctioned cartoon. Frankenstein’s Monster himself, Boris Karloff, provided the voice of the Grinch and the narration for the movie. Seuss a little wary of casting him because he thought his voice would be too scary for kids. Can you imagine the cartoon with any other voice?! If you’re wondering why they sound a bit different, it’s because the sound people went back to the Grinch’s parts and removed all of the high tones in Karloff’s voice. That’s why the Grinch sounds so gravelly. Tony the Tiger, AKA Thurl Ravenscroft, is the voice behind “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” He received no credit on screen, so Dr. Seuss wrote to columnists in every major U.S. newspaper to tell them exactly who had sung the song.

 Dr. Seuss never had any biological children. 
Helen Geisel was unable to bear children, and Geisel did not father any children with second wife Audrey, though he was a stepfather to her two daughters. When Dr. Seuss was asked how he could connect with children in spite of not having his own, his stock answer was, “You have ‘em, and I’ll entertain ‘em.”

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