Dr. Seuss is the pseudonym for Theodor Seuss Geisel III, Ted Geisel to
his friends. He originally thought of his pen name being pronounced zo-oice
which is the German pronunciation. He took his middle name from his mother’s
He was born in 1904 to Theodor Jr. and Henrietta Geisel of Springfiel
Massachusetts. Both sets of grandparents were from Germany. Theodor Jr. was a
wealthy brewer and tavern owner until the Prohibition. Then he worked as the
manager of the Springfield Zoo. Ted also had an older sister named Marnie. He
went to college at Dartmouth and graduate school at Oxford. While at Dartmouth
he got into a bit of trouble when the police arrested him for drinking. (This
was during the Prohibition.) As punishment he was kicked off the school magazine,
The Jack O’Lantern, to which he contributed as a cartoonist. To get around the
rule he began to sign his work as Dr. Seuss. And that is why Ted Geisel became
Dr. Seuss. While at Oxford he met his first wife Helen Palmer to whom he was
married for 40 years until her death. They moved to New York. While in New York
he worked drawing cartoon advertisments for Flit, an insect repellant. It was he
who coined the phrase Quick Henry, the Flit which was to 1930s advertising
what Just Do It is to 1990s advertising. Sort of.
They later moved to La Jolla, California where Ted lived for the rest of
his life. They loved children although they were unable to have any of their own.
About five years after Helem’s death he married Audrey Stone. He died in 1991 in
his sleep at the age of 87. He wrote 57 books spanning seven decadesfrom 1939’s
And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street to 1992’s posthumously published Daisy-
He received a special Pulitzer Prize recognizing his contribution to
children’s literatur. He also received an Emmy for The Grinch Who Stole
Christmas and an Oscar for his screenplay for Gerald McBoing-Boing which Chuck
Jones (of Looney Tunes fame) animated.
Dr. Seuss completely revolutionized the field of children’s beginner
books. Before Dr. Seuss the books were of the See Dick. See Dick run. type. With
the Cat In The Hat all that changed by creating a fun, interesting story that a
young reader could read.
Ted Geisel also ran the publishing company Beginner Books (a division of
Random House). He thus was the publisher of many of his own books. Beginner
Books also fostered several other children’s writers, most notably Stan and Jan
Berenstain, creators of the Berenstain Bears. Ted had so many demands with
running the publishing company that he felt some of his writings were not up to
par. These he published under two different pseudonyms, Rosetta Stone. and Theo.
Le Seig (Geisel spelled backwards). He did not illustrate these himself but
rather let other people do that.
Why did Dr. Seuss write. For many reasons. He loved children and wanted
to entertain them and instill in them a love for reading. He wanted to tell the
stories inside him as only he could with his beautiful illustrations and
nonsense words. But perhaps the most important reason was he loved writing the
almost musical rhymes that a generation of Americans grew up with more than he
loved to do anything else.