Timeline Description: Dr. Seuss was the pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904 - 1991), an American cartoonist and writer. He published his first book in 1937, and his best-known works, The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, were bestsellers. Although he never won a Caldecott or Newbery, several of his books earned Caldecott honors, and he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize with a special citation in 1984.
|March 2, 1904||Theodor Seuss Geisel is born.
Theodor Seuss Geisel is born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father, Theodor Robert Geisel, is a successful brewmaster. His mother, Henrietta Seuss Geisel, soothes her children to sleep by repeating rhymes remembered from her childhood. This becomes Geisel’s first exposure to the rhymes that later make him famous.
|1921||Geisel attends Dartmouth College.(Fall 1921)
Geisel begins Dartmouth College at age 18. He becomes the editor-in-chief of the college humor magazine, Jack-O-Lantern, but he is kicked off the staff when he and his friends are caught drinking in violation of Prohibition. Nevertheless, he continues to contribute to the magazine under the pen name “Seuss.”
|1925||Geisel attends Oxford University.(Fall 1925)
Hoping to become a teacher, Geisel moves to England to attend Oxford University after he graduates from Dartmouth in 1925. There he meets Helen Palmer, a Wellesley graduate, who encourages him to focus on his art instead. However, he soon grows bored with his studies and tours Europe instead.
|July 16, 1927||Geisel publishes his first cartoon in the U.S.
Geisel drops out of Oxford and moves back to the U.S., where he decides to focus on cartooning full-time. On July 16, 1927 he publishes a cartoon in The Saturday Evening Post, which earns him a staff position at the weekly humor magazine Judge.
|November 29, 1927||Geisel marries Helen Palmer.
Now that he has a full-time position at the Judge, Geisel feels financially stable enough to support a family. On November 29, 1927, he marries Helen Palmer, who later becomes a children’s book author and editor herself. They have no children.
|May 31, 1928||Geisel publishes a cartoon for Standard Oil.
Geisel then moves to Standard Oil, where he works in the advertising department. He stays at Standard Oil for 15 years. His ad for Flit, a common insecticide manufactured by Standard Oil, is published on May 31, 1928, gains him popularity, and soon his work appears regularly in magazines like LIFE and Vanity Fair.
|February 7, 1931||Geisel illustrates his first book.
Thanks to his ads and illustrations, Viking Press approaches Geisel and offers him a contract to illustrate a children’s book called Boners. While the book does not sell well, it earns good reviews, and it serves as his entrance into children’s literature.
|December 21, 1937||And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street is published.
Geisel pursues writing and illustrating for children more seriously. He completes And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street after being inspired by the rhythm of a ship’s engines when he and Helen are returning from a trip to Europe. The book is rejected 27 times before Vanguard Press publishes it in 1937.
|1942||Geisel illustrates for the war effort.
When World War II breaks out, Geisel begins publishing weekly political cartoons in the left-leaning PM Magazine. Since he is too old for the draft, he joins Frank Capra’s Signal Corps in 1942, where he makes propaganda and learns the art of animation. He develops animated training films featuring a trainee known as Private Snafu.
|1950||Geisel publishes If I Ran the Zoo.
After the war, Geisel and Helen move to La Jolla, California, where he devotes his time to writing and illustrating children’s books. He finds great success, including the publication of If I Ran the Zoo in 1950. Later works include Horton Hears a Who! (1955) and If I Ran the Circus (1956).
|March 12, 1957||The Cat in the Hat is published.
When LIFE magazine publishes an article in 1954 criticizing children’s reading levels, Houghton Mifflin and Random House ask Geisel to write a children’s book using a limited amount of vocabulary words. Geisel publishes The Cat in the Hat in 1957 to great success, as it can be read by beginning readers but retains Geisel’s signature imagination and style. He continues to write books in this style, including Green Eggs and Ham.
|October 23, 1967||Helen Geisel commits suicide.
On October 23, 1967, Helen commits suicide, as she has been suffering from cancer and the pain caused by Geisel’s affair with their longtime friend Audrey Stone Diamond. The next year, Geisel marries Audrey, who influences his later books and now serves as the president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
|1984||Geisel wins the Pulitzer Prize.
In 1984, Geisel wins the Pulitzer Prize in a special citation for his contributions to children’s literature, lasting nearly half a century. His nomination meets with a unanimous vote from the board.
|September 24, 1991||Geisel dies.
Geisel dies on September 24, 1991 at the age of 87 in La Jolla, California, having published 44 children’s books. Over 200 million copies of his books have been sold, and his books have been translated into more than 15 languages. Although he never won a Caldecott, sixteen of his books are on Publishers Weekly’s list of top-selling hardcover children’s books of all time.
|February 18, 2015||Random House announces a new Dr. Seuss book.
On February 18, 2015, Random House Children’s Books announces that Audrey Geisel has discovered a manuscript and sketches for a new Dr. Seuss book. Random House plans to publish the book, called What Pet Should I Get?, in July 2015.