Dr. Seuss biography and overview
Dr. Seuss is the well-known pen name of American children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel, who is famous for works such as The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Lorax. Geisel attended Dartmouth University as an English major, and then was a student at Lincoln College, Oxford, where he studied philosophy and literature. He began his career as an illustrator for publications and advertising companies, and later became a political cartoonist before concentrating on writing and illustrating books for children. There are many well-known and often reproduced quotes and sayings by Geisel that have been published in other works of literature.
The first time Geisel formally referred to himself as “Dr. Seuss” was when he wrote an article for a humor magazine. His first published children’s book was And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, which was released in 1937. He would go on to publish over 40 children’s books until his death in 1991.
Dr. Seuss poems and poetic style
Though often thought of as simply children’s fiction, Geisel constructed most of his works using the poetic meter called “anapestic tetrameter,” a system where four rhythmic components are used. His books are often constructed like poems, and often rhyme and have consistent beats.
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Dr. Seuss quotes
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Horton Hears a Who!
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss Quote
“Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!” – Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” – Dr. Seuss Quote
“Kid, you’ll move mountains.” – Oh The Places You’ll Go!
“I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.” – The Cat in the Hat
“Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.” – Dr. Seuss Quote
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax
“It all began with a shoe on the wall. A shoe on the wall shouldn’t be there at all.” – Wacky Wednesday
“Be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act.” – Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” – Dr. Seuss Quote
“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!” – One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
“Think and wonder, wonder and think.” – Dr. Seuss Quote
“My trouble was I had a mind but I couldn’t make it up!” – Hunches in Bunches
“A tree falls the way it leans. Be careful which way you lean.” – The Lorax
“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” – I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
“Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.” The Sneetches
“I meant what I said and I said what I meant.” – Horton Hatches the Egg!
“And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day” – How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” – The Lorax
“And the fools that I saw were none other than you, who seem to have nothing else better to do than sit here and argue who’s better than who!” – Yertle the Turtle
“And you very small persons will not have to die if you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!” – Horton Hears a Who!
“Things may happen and often do to people as brainy and footsy as you.” – Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
“You ought to be thankful a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not!” – Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
“Only you can control your future.” – Dr. Seuss Quote
“You can think any think that you wish.” – Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!
“For a host, above all, must be kind to his guests.” – Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose
“And the turtles, of course…all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.” – Yertle the Turtle
“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you’ve ever imagined.” – Dr. Seuss Quote
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” – Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
“When he worked, he really worked. But when he played, he really played.” – Dr. Seuss Quote
“Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try!” – Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!
“It is fun to have fun. But you have to know how.” – The Cat in the Hat
“What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” – How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” – Dr. Seuss Quote
“I said, ‘I do not fear those pants with nobody inside them.’ I said, and said, and said those words. I said them but I lied them. ” – The Sneetches
“All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot!” – Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Happy Birthday to You!
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Dr. Seuss fast facts
Ready for a few frequently researched facts about Dr. Seuss? Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions.
- Profession: Author and Illustrator
- Dr. Seuss Real Name: Theodor Seuss Geisel
- Dr. Seuss Birthday: March 2nd, 1904
- Birthplace: Springfield, Massachusetts
- Education: Dartmouth University and Lincoln College, Oxford
- Date of death: September 24th, 1991
- Best known for: The Cat in the Hat; Green Eggs and Ham; Oh, The Places You’ll Go; The Lorax; The Sneeches; How the Grinch Stole Christmas; Horton Hears a Who
- Achievements and Awards: Caldecott Honor Book (1948, 1950, 1951), Pulitzer Prize (1984), Academy Award (1947, 1951), Emmy Award (1977, 1982), Peabody Award (1970)
- Dr. Seuss Movies: Horton Hatches the Egg (1942), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966, 2000, 2018), The Cat in the Hat (1971, 2003), Horton Hears a Who! (1970, 2008), The Lorax (1972, 2012), The Butter Battle Book (1989)
- Dr. Seuss Day: Celebrated March 2nd
- Important Dates:
- Dr. Seuss The Lorax: Published 1971
- Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat: Published 1957
- Dr. Seuss Birthday: March 2nd, 1904
- Frequent Misspellings: Dr. Suess, Dr Seuss,
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Dr. Seuss themes
Geisel was a passionate supporter of human rights, and was particularly outspoken against the brutal treatment of Jewish people under the Nazi regime during World War II. The events of the war and the holocaust inspired him to take a break from writing children’s books in that time period, where he instead focused on illustrating political cartoons that denounced the actions of both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. An example of a Dr. Seuss novel that defends human rights and racial equality is The Sneeches (1961), whose title characters are prejudiced against those that have green stars on their stomachs.
Dr. Seuss quotes about human rights:
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Horton Hears a Who!
“You are You. Now isn’t that pleasant?”
“So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!” – Horton Hears a Who!
“I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we, too, should have rights.” – Yertle the Turtle
In some of his later works, Geisel demonstrated his strong views on supporting environmental protection. This is most famously seen in the 1971 work Dr. Seuss The Lorax, where the title character must “speak for the trees” as they “do not have tongues,” and must be defended against corporate greed and resulting deforestation. Geisel was inspired while on a trip to Africa, he saw workers cutting down trees. This story has also become one of the most popular Dr. Seuss movies and has had several adaptations.
Dr. Seuss quotes about the environment:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax
“It’s opener there in the wide open air.” – Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.” – The Lorax
“No one can sing who has smog in his throat.” – The Lorax
The Cold War
Geisel presented many current events and political themes throughout his children’s books. This can be seen in The Butter Battle Book, where two societies, called the “Yooks” and the “Zooks” are constantly at odds and go out of their way to do everything differently from one another. Even seemingly minor behaviors, such as how to eat buttered toast, differs between the two factions, and they are constantly building weapons to display how each is superior than the other. This calls to mind the Cold War and is a presentation of both Russia’s and the United States’ behavior at that time.
Dr. Seuss quotes about the Cold War:
“They were all bravely marching, with banners aflutter, down a hole! For their country! And Right-Side-Up Butter!” – The Butter Battle Book
“In those days of course, the wall wasn’t so high. And I could look any Zook square in the eye” – The Butter Battle Book
“We can … and we’ve got to … do better than this.”
More on themes in Dr. Seuss works
Dr. Seuss death and legacy
Geisel’s books continue to be best-sellers today. Oh The Places You’ll Go!, originally published in 1990, has become one of the most popular gifts to give to student graduates, and routinely is bought hundreds of thousands of times per year.
In a 2001 study done by Publisher’s Weekly on the best-selling children’s books of all time, 25 of Geisel’s’ works made the list. The highest ranking was Green Eggs and Ham, which at the time of publication sold over 8 million copies.
One work of Geisel’s that he wrote in the 1950s was only discovered and posthumously published in 2015. In What Pet Should I Get?, a brother and sister must choose a pet before the deadline set forth by their parents. The main characters in the book are believed to be the same brother and sister duo that appeared in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
Geisel did not officially become a Dr. until much later in his life, when he was granted an honorary doctorate degree by Dartmouth in 1955. He would receive several more honorary degrees before his death.
Geisel died on September 24th, 1991 of oral cancer in La Jolla, California. He left behind a legacy of over 50 books, and won many writing awards both during his lifetime and posthumously, including the Caldecott Honor and the Pulitzer Prize. His books are still read by children and adults alike all over the world.
Dr. Seuss Day is celebrated every year on March 2nd, which is also Geisel’s birthday.
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“The Artistic Legacy of Theodor Seuss Geisel.” The Art of Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., 2019, www.drseussart.com/.
“Dr. Seuss.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 26 Feb. 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Dr-Seuss.
“Dr. Seuss (Author of Green Eggs and Ham).” Goodreads, www.goodreads.com/author/show/61105.Dr_Seuss.
“All-Time Bestselling Children’s Books.” PublishersWeekly.com, 2001, www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/28595-all-time-bestselling-children-s-books.html.
Legacy Staff. “Theodore Geisel and Dr. Seuss.” Legacy.com, 4 Apr. 2017, www.legacy.com/news/explore-history/article/theodore-geisel-and-dr-seuss.
“What Pet Should I Get?” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Mar. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Pet_Should_I_Get%3F.
Seuss, Dr. The Lorax. Penguin Random House LLC, 1971
Seuss, Dr. Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. Random House Books, 1958.
Seuss, Dr. Horton Hears a Who! Random House Books, 1954.
Seuss, Dr. The Lorax. Penguin Random House LLC, 1984.
Seuss, Dr. Oh the Places You’ll Go! Penguin Random House LLC, 1990.