I was able to quote most of his books by heart as a little kid, but I can’t believe how many facts about Dr. Seuss eluded me over the years.
All of the whimsical stories and characters have remained a huge part of youngsters’ lives over the decades since the beloved author’s first foray into children’s literature, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, way back in 1937. His flair for language and delightfully goofy drawings are the perfect way to inspire kids to start learning to read.
Plus, it’s entertaining for the grownups teaching them, too! But I had no idea he actually penned a couple of books specifically for the older crowd of readers.
Take a look at the facts below to learn all about the talented author behind so many of our favorite childhood memories.
Let us know in the comments if we missed any fascinating tidbits about Dr. Seuss that you’ve heard before!
1. He Wasn't Really A Doctor
Born Theodor Seuss Geisel, he began using the title while still in college in order to be taken more seriously and lend his writing more credit. Can you just do that, tell everyone you’re actually a Doctor now?
2. He Wrote "Green Eggs And Ham" On A Dare
Challenged by his publisher to write a book using only 50 different words, Dr. Seuss decided to tell the story of a picky eater (like many of the children reading his books) who continues to refuse the colorful food offerings laid before him.
3. He Produced Cartoons For The Army During WWII
As the commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces, he produced propaganda and training films, including one about a bumbling soldier named Private Snafu.
4. "The Grinch" Movie Was A Flop At First
Now one of the most popular family holiday flicks, the movie was originally panned by critics at Variety despite Dr. Seuss teaming up with Looney Tunes legend Chuck Jones for the animation.
5. He Thought Children's Books Were Too Boring
The mischievous plot of The Cat in the Hat was inspired by what Dr. Seuss felt was a boring, overly simplistic Dick and Jane book series. Rather than attempting to enforce morality lessons, Dr. Seuss embraced the chaos with his titular cat.
6. He Was The First Person To Use The Word "Nerd"
He may have been first, although it meant something completely different in If I Ran the Zoo. Instead of referring to a brainiac, the “nerd” was described as a white-haired, red-and-yellow “sourpuss.”
7. He Tried Writing For Grownups, Too
In 1939, The Seven Lady Godivas: The True Facts Concerning History’s Barest Family featured semi-nude drawings of women. It wasn’t successful, something Dr. Seuss puts down to his being unable to draw the ladies “sexy” enough.
He tried the adult audience again in 1986 with You’re Only Old Once, which joked about all the things that happen as we reach old age.
8. He Started Out In Advertising
He was just as silly with his inventive drawings when his work originally appeared in clever ads for things like bug spray and motor oil, even depicting similar creatures to those that would later appear in his books.
9. He Had Imaginary Children
Dr. Seuss never had biological children: His first wife was unable to bear kids and his second already had two from a previous relationship. Ironically enough, he was actually wary of little ones due to their unpredictable nature.
However, he would also boast about his own make-believe kiddos whenever he’d hear his friends bragging about theirs. Most notably, he referred to his fictional daughter “Chrysanthemum Pearl,” whom he claimed could make “the most delicious oyster stew with chocolate frosting and flaming Roman candles.”
10. He Had A Large Collection Of Hats
Like the cat in his most famous book, Dr. Seuss was a fan of chapeaus and kept a rather large collection in a hidden area of his home. Reports claim that he had over 300 hats at one point during his life.
11. He Had A Very Clever Response When Asked About Inspiration
Of course, the creative mind that brought to life so many wonderful characters would have an entertaining answer to one of the most asked questions he received:
“I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Forka Pass. There is a little town called Gletch, and two thousand feet up above Gletch there is a smaller hamlet called Über Gletch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock fixed. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideas from them.”
Did we miss any of your favorite facts about the beloved author?