Red Fish, Blue Fish


New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

You may have read his books, but do you really know the story behind Dr. Seuss?

You’ve most likely heard that line from the one and only Dr. Seuss. Born on March 2, 1904, Theodor Giesel, is the most famous children’s book author of all time. Giesel grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts as a middle child with a sister on either end and two loving parents. He attended Dartmouth College in 1925 where he earned his Bachelor’s degree. He later did some postgraduate studies at Oxford, Sorbonne, and Lincoln College; although he did not actually earn a doctorate degree.

Giesel had two wives: Helen Palmer (m. 1927–1967) and Audrey Geisel (m. 1968–1991). He did not have any children of his own but he was a stepfather to two daughters. He started calling himself Dr. Seuss in 1928.

When you think of Dr. Seuss, you probably think of The Cat in the Hat: the book that features a tall black cat wearing a red and white striped hat. Another familiar connection is the story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which features a tall, furry, green creature with “no heart”. While those may be the first books that people associate with Dr. Seuss, they were not his first book. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was his first published piece in 1937. It received 27 rejections and wasn’t a big hit.

Dr. Seuss was heavily influenced by things around him growing up which gave him the inspiration for his stories and characters. Although his life got tough at times, he won six awards for his one-of-a-kind books. He died in his home on September 24, 1991, in La Jolla, California from cancer.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was his last published book; a book that focuses more on adults, and is beloved by many. Dr. Seuss’s legacy will live on for generations to come. America celebrates the author on March 2, which is not only his birthday but also National Education Association’s Read Across America Day to celebrate the importance of reading.