The Secret Life of Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss is a widely popular children's author who just about everyone loves, but most people don't know anything about the man. The author that gave us "The Cat in the Hat" and "Horton Hears a Who" was more than just a children's author. Here are some lesser-known facts about Dr. Seuss.

  • His name was a lie.
    First of all, his name was really Theodor Seuss Geisel and, no, he wasn’t really a doctor.
  • He gave us "nerd".
    He invented several words, one of which made its way right into our vernacular: “Nerd.”
  • He actually had and used several pen names during his career.
    He went by Theo LeSieg, Rosetta Stone, Theophrastus Seuss, and of course  Dr. Seuss.
  • He did not pronounce his name like everyone else.
     It might also surprise you to find that he initially didn’t pronounce his name the way it is commonly said (rhyming with “goose”). His German surname and original pen name were pronounced “Zoice,” and he himself said it rhymed with “voice.”
  • Alexander Liang, one of Seuss’ collaborators, is said to have written:
    You’re wrong as the deuce
    And you shouldn’t rejoice
    If you’re calling him Seuss.
    He pronounces it Zoice.
  • He gave in to peer pressure.
    Seuss did eventually accept and embrace the anglicized pronunciation, conceding that most people said it that way and that it, in his own words, “evoked a figure advantageous for an author of children's books to be associated with—Mother Goose.” 
  • He had a specific writing strategy.
    It’s said that Seuss made a point to avoid a moral when he starts writing because children “can see a moral coming a mile away,” but agreed that “there’s an inherent moral in any story.” 
  • His children's stories also made important political, environmental, and societal statements.
    He called himself “subversive as hell,” and many of his stories had deeper or different meaning and purpose than most readers realize: The Lorax is recognized as Seuss’ take on environmentalism, The Cat in the Hat was written by Seuss so he could see Dick and Jane (a common elementary reading aid that Seuss hated) taken out of school libraries, Green Eggs and Ham (which has exactly 50 words) was written after Seuss was bet he couldn’t write a book with 50 words or less, and Yertle the Turtle is a thinly-veiled representation of Hitler and his quest for power. 
  • He worked on adult projects too.
    On several occasions, Seuss made content for the complete opposite demographic by providing the illustrations for several adult books. An adult humor book call The Bedroom Companion carried Seuss’ signature artwork.
  • Not all of his books were successful.
    He even wrote and illustrated The Seven Lady Godivas: The True Facts Concerning History’s Barest Family, a story about seven nude women –sisters actually—on a quest to bring “the light of the world some new… benefit to man.” Around 10,000 copies were made and roughly a quarter of them actually sold. Even Seuss understood why, saying, “I attempted to draw the sexiest babes I could, but they came out looking absurd.” For some reason, Seussian women just aren’t sexy.