In celebration of Dr. Seuss Day, we take a quick look back at the extraordinary evolution of one of America’s most beloved children’s book authors.
“In Katroo, every year, on the day you were born
They start the day right in the bright early morn
When the Birthday Honk-Honker hikes high up Mt. Zorn
And lets loose a big blast on the big Birthday Horn.
And the voice of the horn calls out loud as it plays:
‘Wake up! For today is your Day of all Days!'”
– “Happy Birthday to You!” by Dr. Seuss
National Read Across America Day isn’t March 2nd for any arbitrary reason: It was established on the great Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birthday, who was born 110 years ago on March 2, 1904. In his expansive career, the good doctor wrote and illustrated 44 books, and for many of us, his fanciful tales were a cure that ailed many bouts of childhood sickness and imaginative “insomnia.”
But did you know that most of us are probably not pronouncing this beloved author’s last name correctly? Seuss is a Bavarian name in origin, and his family pronounced it like Zoice rather than Soose. And the addition of “Dr.” did not come through scholarly means.
While a senior at Dartmouth College, Seuss and some friends were caught drinking gin in his dorm room. Given that this was 1925, the dean put all of them on probation for violating Prohibition laws. Seuss was also stripped of his title of editor for the college’s humor magazine, Jack-O-Lantern. But Seuss could not be stopped, and he began writing and drawing his cartoons under aliases like L. Pasteur, D.G. Rossetti ’25, T. Seuss, and Seuss.
When he began his professional career, he came up with the pseudonym Dr. Theophrastus Seuss. Soon after, though, he took out the dinosaur-sounding nomenclature of Theophrastus and simply became Dr. Seuss. We’re glad he did.