Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss

Born in Massachusetts on March 2, 1904, Theodor Geisel was the only son of a prosperous German-American brewing family. He was intended to take over the business eventually, but Prohibition intervened and the family business was closed in 1920.

Geisel’s father took a job as the Superintendent of Parks, including the city zoo, and young Theodor was a frequent visitor to the animal enclosures, an experience that was to come out later in his cartoons featuring fantastical-looking animals.

After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1925, Geisel (who was by now signing his cartoons with his middle name, Seuss) toured Europe, then returned to the U.S. where he began his cartooning career in earnest. By the end of World War II, he had moved into writing and illustrating children’s books at a rate of about one per year.

The combination of bright pictures, simple and humorous rhymes, fun characters, and moral messages, have ensured that his work remains beloved by children and their parents all over the world, although he remained a private man throughout his life.

Ted Geisel died in 1991 at the age of 87. In 2004, the 100th anniversary of his birth was celebrated in his hometown of Springfield with the unveiling of a memorial sculpture garden.

On his birthday each year, the National Education Association sponsors Read Across America Day, when adults and children engage in read-aloud activities.

Biography from Junior Authors and Illustrators, also available in World Authors, and Biography Reference Bank.

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