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Born on March 2,1904, Theodor Seuss Geisel grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was an avid reader and loved to draw, but his childhood dream did not include becoming an author and illustrator of children’s books. When Seuss was in high school, an art teacher told him that he would never learn to draw and advised him to skip the class for the rest of the semester. As an adult, Seuss maintained that his lack of formal art lessons only ensured that he would develop a distinctive style of his own.
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Theodor Geisel, best known under the pseudonym Seuss, stated that “When you are in love you can't fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams.” Douglas Adams gave us a dry warning in his book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, stressing that, in terms of love, “Avoid, if at all possible.” With all the artists, poets, writers, philosophers, scientists, and thinkers of the world giving us conflicting and equally meaningful views of love, can it really be explained....
Seuss and Beginner Books created many modern classics for children, from Green Eggs and Ham (1960), about the need to try new experiences, to Fox in Socks (1965), a series of boisterous tongue-twisters, to The Lorax (1971), a comment on environmental preservation. In 1986, Seuss published You’re Only Old Once, a very different kind of book that follows an elderly gentleman’s examination at The Golden Age Clinic on Century Square, where he is subjected to pointless tests by merciless physicians and grim nurses. According to Seuss, who was eighty-two at the time, this story is much more autobiographical than anything else he had written. Although Theodor Geisel died on September 24, 1991, Dr. Seuss lives on, inspiring generations of children of all ages to explore the joys of reading.
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The couple returned to the United States, and soon Seuss was marketing drawings and prose pieces for such magazines as Life and Vanity Fair. When one of his cartoons caught the attention of the Standard Oil Company, Seuss was contracted to illustrate billboard advertisements. Although his advertising work became famous, he still had other ambitions, which included writing serious fiction and humor for adults; however, his contract with Standard Oil prohibited outside writing except for children’s books.
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After high school, Seuss attended Dartmouth College, where he became the editor of Jack-o-Lantern, the school’s humor magazine. In the journal, Seuss contributed numerous drawings of bizarre cartoon animals, the very kinds of illustrations that would eventually appear in his children’s books. With the intent of becoming an English professor, Seuss enrolled at Oxford University for graduate school, but he abandoned his literature studies when Helen Palmer, a fellow student who had watched him doodle in class, encouraged him to pursue cartooning. In addition to taking her advice, Seuss made her his chief advisor and manager, and the two married in 1927.
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Known by the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel distinguished himself as a children’s author with his innate understanding of children and a genuine respect for their individuality and imagination. He is recognized for his inventiveness, diversity, humor, and lack of inhibition in the picture books he wrote and illustrated for over fifty years. Many of his works feature characters now accepted as contemporary folklore, including the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch who despises Christmas. In addition, Seuss is credited with initiating a new type of children’s literature: pleasure reading for beginning and reluctant readers.
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