Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Coauthors Judith and Neil Morgan, neighbors and friends of Ted Geisel in La Jolla, California, combined their firsthand knowledge of the man with information culled from hundreds of letters and interviews—as well as Geisel’s own notes for an unpublished autobiography—to create a comprehensive biography of this reclusive but beloved artist.

Beginning with Geisel’s birth March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts, the book devotes chapters to his childhood and adolescence; his years at Dartmouth College and Oxford University; his marriage to Helen Palmer, who greatly encouraged his literary and artistic career; his stint in New York as writer and artist for a humor magazine entitled JUDGE as well as his lucrative seventeen years on the advertising campaign for Flit insecticide; his extensive travels and eventual relocation to La Jolla; and various of his now-famous children’s books. The book continues through his marriage to his second wife, Audrey Stone, and finally his death on September 24, 1991, at the age of eighty-seven.

Geisel’s prolific writing career spanned more than half a century and forty-seven books, and he is credited with having revolutionized the way children learn to read. A pivotal book was the now- classic THE CAT IN THE HAT (1957), which Geisel created from a 225-word list handed him with the challenge to write a reader that six- and seven-year-olds “can’t put down.” This book not only was an overnight success but also launched Geisel as president of Beginner Books, a newly formed division of Random House.

Known for his quirky characters and entertaining rhymes, Dr. Seuss had a profound impact on the field of children’s literature, yet during his lifetime he maintained a “passion for privacy” that his biographers have made an attempt at, and to some extent succeed in, penetrating.