Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Theodor Seuss Geisel graduated from Central High School in 1921 and went to Dartmouth College, and he struggled in his studies in literature, but he enjoyed his time working on the school’s comic magazine the Jack-O-Lantern. In the online Scribner Encyclopedia it is reported that his easiest class was German because it was widely spoken in Springfield, his hometown, before World War I, so it was a class that he could be proficient in. In his senior year of college he was stripped of his editorship at the Jack-O-Lantern because of being caught drinking bootleg gin with his friends on Easter weekend. But he continued to make contributions to the magazine and it is reported that because he had to do this anonymously he started using only his middle name Seuss. Maybe this was where Dr. Seuss was born?

During the summer months Theodor Geisel boasted to his father that he had won a scholarship to Oxford and his father went and “made a proud announcement in the Springfield newspaper” (Scribner) but the truth was that he had only applied, not won a scholarship, so because of making the big announcement his father agreed to help pay for his tuition. But Geisel was still not ready for serious studying, in fact he ultimately failed to earn his doctorate, but he did meet Helen Marion Palmer, who after watching him doodle in his Chaucer notebook blurted out that “You’re crazy to try to be a professor. What you really want to do is draw!” (Scribner) Helen Marion Palmer and Theodor Seuss Geisel were married in New Jersey in 1927, and in his biography it says “she remained his booster, editor, prod, and shield until her suicide in La Jolla, California, in October 1967” (Scribner) But this was only the beginning of the story for the Geisel’s and it was going to be an adventure.

The couples early years were spent in New York City where Geisel “worked for a number of years as a freelance magazine cartoonist” (Contemporary) and it was in this way he began doing work for Judge Magazine and where he first used his pseudonym Dr Seuss. Per Gale Thomson’s biography you can find many of these pieces in a collection called “The Tough Coughs As he Ploughs the Dough” (Contemporary). One of Geisel’s early cartoons featured the character “Flit” who was The Standard Oil Company’s moniker for their spray can pesticide, they liked his artwork so much they hired him and for the next fifteen years he created many of their ads. Since this was before air conditioning having bug spray was important in American households. By 1929 he had done enough of the ads that the Standard Oil Company released a collection of them, it was the first publication of a collection of exclusive “Seuss” material. (Cohen) In some ways without this commercial advertising we might not have had a Dr. Seuss. All in all he created more than 125 of the Flit ads for Standard Oil. The financial security that the Standard Oil Company provided to Geisel meant that he was able to devote more time to the business of making children’s books and his secret art.
Work Cited
"Dr. Seuss."The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Volume 3: 1991-1993. Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009. http://ezp.tccd.edu:2055/servlet/BioRC

Cohen, Charles D. The Seuss The Whole Seuss and Nothing But The Seuss. New York. Random House. 2004.

Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009. http://ezp.tccd.edu:2055/servlet/BioRC

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