Saturday, March 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Dr. Seuss in 1957 with The Cat in the Hat.
Today marks the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Seuss was an interesting man who is probably hated by most translators due to his obscure style and word usage. Though most famous for his literary works on felines with head attire and off-colour foodstuffs, Dr. Seuss' work was much more than that.

He was born as Theodor Seuss Geisel and graduated from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where he wrote and eventually edited the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern humour magazine. He first used the name Seuss after he was caught drinking gin and subsequently banned from all extracurricular activities. Despite the ban, he continued working for the Jack-O-Lantern using this new pseudonym.

He continued writing after leaving Dartmouth College and had already been published as Dr. Seuss by the time he attended Lincoln College, Oxford. At Lincoln College, Geisel was undertaking a PhD in English Literature but never finished his course. Technically, he should have published as Seuss his entire life.

His early work was principally political satire, though he also earned a living during the Great Depression by creating advertisements for big companies. It wasn't really until the 1950s that began to focus on children's literature and created the stories and characters that he is most famous for.

The Geisel Library, named after Theodor and his wife,
on the University of California, San Diego campus.
Following a challenge from the director of education at the Houghton Mifflin publishing house, The Cat in the Hat was initially written only using words from a list of 250 words considered important for first-graders to recognise. In the end, the book was written using only 236 of these words.

Geisel's innovative and entertaining writing style has helped to promote reading amongst young children and for that, we'd like to honour the man on what would have been his 109th birthday. Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!