This day in history

02 March - Dr. Seuss is born

On this day in 1904, Theodor Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, the author and illustrator of such beloved children's books as ‘The Cat in the Hat’ (1957) and ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ (1960), is born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Geisel, who used his middle name (which was also his mother's maiden name) as his pen name, wrote 48 books, including a few for adults, that have sold well over 200 million copies and been translated into multiple languages. Dr. Seuss books are known for their whimsical rhymes and quirky characters, which have names like the Lorax and the Sneetches and live in places like Hooterville.

Geisel, who was born on 2 March 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts, graduated from Dartmouth College, where he was editor of the school's humour magazine, and studied at Oxford University. There he met Helen Palmer, his first wife and the person who encouraged him to become a professional illustrator. Back in America, Geisel worked as a cartoonist for a variety of magazines and in advertising.

The first children's book that Geisel wrote and illustrated, ‘And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street’, was rejected by over two dozen publishers before making it into print in 1937. Geisel's first bestseller, ‘The Cat in the Hat’, was published in 1957. The story of a mischievous cat in a tall striped hat came about after his publisher asked him to produce a book using 220 New Reader vocabulary words that could serve as an entertaining alternative to the school reading primers which children found boring. Other Dr. Seuss classics include ‘Yertle the Turtle’ (1958), ‘If I Ran the Circus’ (1956), ‘Fox in Socks’  (1965) and ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish’ (1960).

Some Dr. Seuss books tackled serious themes. ‘The Butter Battle Book’ (1984) was about the arms build-up and threat of nuclear war during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. ‘The Lorax’ (1971) dealt with the environment. Many Dr. Seuss books have been adapted for television and film, including ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who!’ In 1990, Geisel published a book for adults titled ‘Oh, the Places You'll Go’ that became a hugely popular graduation gift for high school and college students.

Geisel, who lived and worked in an old observatory in La Jolla, California, known as "The Tower," died on 24 September 1991, at the age of 87.

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