Theodor Seuss Geisel

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Theodor Geisel

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Springfield, Massachusetts


Theodor Seuss Geisel aka Dr. Seuss – was an American writer, cartoonist, animator, and artist – best known for his children’s books. Adopting the moniker of Dr. Seuss during his university studies at Dartmouth and Oxford, Geisel began his career illustrating editorials for magazines, eventually venturing into the advertising industry as well as being a political cartoonist. 


Family and early life

Geisel’s parents were of German origin, and owned a brewery in Springfield – until prohibition was enforced. 

Career outline

Geisel adopted his pen name of “Dr. Seuss” during his University studies. After returning to the United States, he began submitting his art works to magazines, book publishers, and advertising agencies. After making a $25 sale to the Saturday Evening Post, Geisel decided to move to New York City and pursue illustrating and writing at the humour magazine, Judge. Shortly after, Geisel married Helen Palmer. 

Geisel supported himself and his wife through the Great Depression by working with corporate companies to create advertising – including drawings for General Electric, NBC, and Standard Oil. Since Theodore and Helen did not have children, they had time to travel and took an ocean voyage to Europe – which later inspired Geisel’s first book: “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” After being rejected by 40 or so publishers, a chance encounter with a Dartmouth classmate led to his first book publication, under Vanguard Press. 

During WWII, Geisel worked as a political cartoonist for a left-leaning paper, denouncing Hitler and Mussolini, and racism against Jews and blacks (although he depicted all Japanese-Americans as traitors). In 1942, he offered his direct support by drawing posters for the Treasury Department and War Production Board, joining a year later as Captain and commander of the Animation Department of the United States Army Air Force. During this period, Geisel produced propaganda films for the government. 

After the war, Geisel returned to California, where he took up writing children’s books full time. During this period in the 50’s he had a magnificent output – creating books like “Horton Hears a Who! (1955), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957), and Green Eggs and Ham (1960) and later on The Cat in the Hat (1957).

In 1984, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his unique contribution to children’s literature in American culture.  

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