Theodor Geisel (1904-1991) was an American illustrator, poet and author, who rhymed his way into the hearts of adoring children all over the world. But you probably know him by his middle name - Seuss - as in Dr. Seuss. Known for his refusal to be limited by paltry constraints such as real words, Geisel's books overflowed with nonsense and rhythm, great honkings of joy, and an onomatopoeiac clamour that made children chortle. His mind-blowing gift for rhyme and flair for the silly ensures that his books remain cherished by little kids today.
While Geisel's calling eventually made itself clear, his artistic skills began in a different setting - in early adulthood he worked for Standard Oil and other large corporations, utilising his cartooning abilities for advertisements. He thought up his first kids' book, To Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street, while on an oceanliner returning from a trip abroad. The cadence was inspired by the rhythmic rumbling of the engines. He published three more books (including The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, a personal childhood favorite of mine) during 1938 and 1939. However, when World War II began, Geisel turned his attention to wartime efforts, first with strongly opinionated political cartoons in New York City's PM Daily and later more directly with propaganda posters.
But children's books were his passion, and after WWII, Geisel returned to them with gusto.During his career, he published 48 books as Dr. Seuss (of which he illustrated all himself except for one - Great Day for Up! was drawn by the great Quentin Blake, best known for illustrating much of Roald Dahl's work). Four more Dr. Seuss works for children were illustrated by outside artists after Seuss' death in 1991. During his lifetime, he also wrote numerous books under the pseudonym Theo. LeSieg and one, Because a Little Bug went Ka-choo! under the name Rosetta Stone.
Interestingly, Seuss' two most famous books came from language challenges. The Cat in the Hat came to pass after a study in the mid-1950s reported that illiteracy in children was a danger when the children were bored. A director at publisher Houghton Mifflin challenged Geisel to write a book using words from a vocabulary list important to first-graders. Geisel accepted the task, and The Cat in the Hat was born. A similar story involves a friend of Geisel's making a bet with him that he couldn't write a book using only 50 words. But Geisel rose to the occasion again, and the result was Green Eggs and Ham.
Geisel's unusual knack for rhyme and the English language was illustrated perhaps nowhere better than in his poem about the ridiculousness of the rules of English, called 'The Tough Coughs as he Ploughs the Dough". This is a poem well worth trying (and probably failing) to read aloud. The last book Geisel wrote, a year before his death at age 87, was Oh, The Places You'll Go, a book about progressions from opportunity and adventure to waiting and planning and all of our options in life. The book has become the essential gift for students graduating from high school.
Collectors of scarce, rare and collectable Dr. Seuss have come to the right place. We've compiled a selection of some of the choice items available for sale for the Geisel enthusiast. Most are first edition copies, in varying conditions, some signed or inscribed. Some are original drawings, some are posters. But all are unusual and valuable treasures. And this is just a drop in the bucket of the amazing collectable pieces of Dr. Seuss' legacy.