Credit: Shutterstock/Theodor Seuss Geisel

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells

Children’s author Theodor Seuss Geisel - Dr Seuss - created some of the most enduring and popular children’s books of all time, including The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Green Eggs and Ham.

Never really a doctor, Ted Geisel began his career a political cartoonist and during the Second World War joined the US army’s animation department, where he created several anti-fascist short-films. One of these was adapted into a feature length film, Design for Death, which won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar in 1947.

Geisel began writing children’s books in the 1950s. Responding to a news report that schoolchildren struggling to read were hindered by ‘boring’ books, he set about creating nonsense-fantasies using keywords most commonly introduced to new readers.

He wrote The Cat in the Hat using 236 of these words, while Green Eggs and Ham was the result of a bet that he couldn’t use just 50 words to create a lively story for beginners. In total, he wrote more than 60 books in his lifetime, selling over 600 million copies in 20 languages.

The author lived in La Jolla, California, near another Dr. Seuss - Dr. Hans Seuss, a physical chemist and nuclear physicist. They would so frequently receive each others post that the Geisel library at the University of California, San Diego holds both of their personal papers!