Reading Rockets conducted an exclusive interview with Audrey Geisel (Mrs. Dr. Seuss) that we filmed at her San Diego home. In this interview, Audrey Geisel explains how she first met Theodore Geisel, describes their life together, and talks about his classic works. It's a fascinating glimpse into the life of the man who's had a lasting influence on children's literature and American culture.
Audrey and Theodor Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) had been friends for a long time before they married in 1968. She brought order and stability to his life at a time when Geisel's popularity was pulling him in various directions.
Brilliant, playful, and always respectful of children, Dr. Seuss charmed his way into the consciousness of four generations of youngsters and parents. In the process, he helped millions of kids learn to read.
Born Theodor Seuss Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 2, 1904, Geisel graduated from Dartmouth College in 1925 and then went to Oxford University, intending to acquire a doctorate in literature. He spent over 15 years in advertising and served in Frank Capra's Signal Corps (U.S. Army) making movies relevant to the war effort.
In 1954, Life magazine published a report on illiteracy among schoolchildren, suggesting that children were having trouble reading because their books were boring. This problem inspired Geisel's publisher, Bennett Cerf, who asked him to write an entertaining children's book using only 250 words. Nine months later, using only 220 of the words given to him, Geisel submitted The Cat in the Hat, the publication of which brought instant success. Later, Bennett Cerf wagered that Geisel couldn't write a book using 50 words or less, which prompted the all-time Seuss favorite Green Eggs and Ham.
Cerf had the vision to see that Geisel was going to turn the children's book industry upside down, so he and Geisel along with their wives, created Random House's Beginner Books division, one of the most innovative and successful ventures in children's publishing.
In all, Theodor Geisel authored and illustrated 44 children's books. He also won a Pulitizer Prize, three Academy Awards, two Emmys, a Peabody, and Caldecott Honor awards.
Although Theodor Geisel died in 1991, Dr. Seuss lives on, inspiring generations of children of all ages to explore the joys of reading.
Adapted from Random House biographies.