A new US stamp

 1. Was Dr Seuss his real name?Not exactly. His name was Theodore Seuss Geisel – Seuss being his mother’s maiden name. He started using it as a pseudonym at university. He added the Dr later, as a joke, because his father had always wanted him to get a doctorate and become a professor.2. How many books did he write?Between 1937 and 1991, when he died aged 87, he published more than 40 books, which have sold half a billion copies between them – more even than J K Rowling’s Harry Potter books. He nearly burned his first book, And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street, after it was turned down by 27 publishers.3. Did he have children himself?No. He was not particularly fond of spending time with them either. His widow, Audrey, said in a recent interview that he was slightly afraid of them. She said he was always thinking: “What might they do next? What might they ask next?” She added: “He couldn’t just sit down on the floor and play with them.”4. Where did he get his ideas from? 

Click to see an excerpt from the Dr Seuss classic Green Eggs And Ham.

This was a question he hated being asked. His mother was one source of inspiration: she worked in a bakery and would sing him to sleep in his childhood with her “pie-selling chants”. One of his most popular books, Green Eggs and Ham, was the result of a bet that he could not write a book using only 50 words.These are, in order of appearance: I am Sam; that; do not like; you green eggs and ham; them; would here or there; anywhere; in a house with mouse; eat box fox; car they; could; may will see tree; let me be; train on; say the dark; rain; goat; boat; so try may; if; good; thank.5. Where did he live?He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, where his grandparents lived on Mulberry Street – hence the title of his first book. He studied at Dartmouth College (in the US) and Oxford University (in the UK). In 1948 he and his first wife Helen bought an old observation tower in La Jolla, California, where he would shut himself away in a studio for at least eight hours a day, sometimes literally wearing a thinking cap.6. Which are his most popular books?The Cat in the Hat, published in 1957, and Green Eggs and Ham, published in 1960, are the two biggest sellers. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is third on the list of most popular Seuss books in the US. The tongue-twisting Fox in Socks is third in the UK. The Cat in the Hat Comes Back and the counting book One Fish Two Fish are also near the top of the table.7. What impact did they have on children’s books?A revolutionary one. He has been credited with killing off “Dick and Jane”, the sterile heroes of older children’s books, replacing them with clever rhymes, plot twists and rebellious heroes who do the unexpected. The Cat in the Hat was commissioned following publication in 1955 of an influential book, Why Johnny Can’t Read, which said children were being held back by boring books. An article under the same name in Life magazine called for more imaginative illustration, and named Dr Seuss as a good example of what could be done. Now one in four American children receive Dr Seuss as their first book.8. Have the books ever been made into films?There have been a number of animated films. More recently, a version of How the Grinch stole Christmas! starring Jim Carrey became the highest grossing film in the USA in the year 2000. A film of The Cat in the Hat, starring Mike Myers, was described by some critics as the worst film of the year in the USA in 2003, though it also did well financially. (It will be in cinemas soon in the UK.)9. What did he think was his greatest work?He once said it was not a book or an illustration, but the Lion Wading Pool at Wild Animal Park in San Diego, which he donated in 1973.10. Which was his most controversial book?The Butter Battle Book, published in 1984, about the arms race. Taking the place of the US and the USSR are the Yooks and the Zooks, who disagree on whether bread should be eaten butter-side down, or butter-side up. The story ends with a blank page, allowing readers to imagine the result of the rising tensions for themselves. The book remained on the New York Times’ bestseller list for six months – for adults. The televised version of the book was shown in the USSR in 1990; Dr Seuss joked that it was after this that the country began falling apart. * Taken from BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3523393.stm