Who Was Dr. Seuss?

If someone were to ask you to name the first children’s books author that came to mind, who would it be?  For many people, it would be Dr. Seuss. After all, he was the best-selling children’s author of all time.  The truth is that there are many aspects of Dr. Seuss’s life that were never publicized. Let’s take a look at a few commonly overlooked facts about Theodor Seuss Giesel.

Here’s the scoop:

  1. Dr. Seuss wasn’t actually a doctor.

After he graduated from Dartmouth, Theodor pursued school at Oxford University, where he had high hopes of becoming a professor.  Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned; we can use Theodor as an example.  Dr. Seuss was never even a real doctor.  While in school at Oxford, Theodor met his future-wife (Helen Palmer), got married, and dropped out – never finishing his higher education.  We don’t all have the need or desire to become doctors, but the problem was that his father really wanted him to earn his PhD, so Theodor did the most logical thing: he legally changed his name to Dr. Seuss in honor of his father’s wish.

  1. His first book was rejected a shocking 27 times before being published.

Joseph Heller, who was an American novelist, once said, “Every writer I know has trouble writing.”  As someone who is fascinated by different forms of communication, I appreciate how much truth this statement holds.  Dr. Seuss, who was ultimately extremely successful, certainly was not an exception.  His first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was rejected 27 times before it was finally published in 1937, according to his biography posted in March 2015 on biography.com.

  1. Dr. Seuss wrote for the benefit of parents, too.

According to an article published on CNN.com, Dr. Seuss confirmed that his book Yertle the Turtle was actually based on Hitler.  For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Yertle was a turtle who always wanted more for himself. He was the king of the pond, but he was never satisfied.  He wanted to be as physically high as possible so he could survey the land, and he grew angry if he ever saw anything higher than him.  He actually demanded that the other turtles stack on top of one another so he could sit at the very top. He ignored other turtles’ requests to be given rests and constantly overworked them. Dr. Seuss was known for being very political, and Yertle the Turtle was not his only book to have underlying messages. Think about it!

  1. Dr. Seuss had an affair.

While Dr. Seuss influenced the lives of many with inspirational and thought-provoking children’s books, his home life as an adult was nothing to admire. His wife, Helen, was sick with cancer. While she was sick, Dr. Seuss was having an affair with their life-long friend, Audrey Diamond.  As if Helen didn’t have enough to deal with, this affair caused a lot of extra emotional tension. In result of the sickness and emotional trauma caused by the affair, Helen committed suicide. Dr. Seuss married Audrey the next year. Yikes.

Although Dr. Seuss was controversial, there is no denying the positive impact that his stories have had on children and adults alike. Dr. Seuss was a very opinionated, political, and eccentric individual. He had a lot of secrets that, for the most part, remain overlooked even today.  If Dr. Seuss comes to mind when you think about your childhood books, I hope that this information gives you a new perspective. It’s important for us to recognize that famous people are still people, and no one leads a perfect life.

Works Cited:

Conradt, Stacy. “10 Stories Behind Dr. Seuss Stories.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.     

 Editing Staff. “Dr. Seuss.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 12 Mar. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.                                                            



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