Hi there again campbellsworld visitors. Have I ever got a treat for you.
Author Phyllis Staton Campbell answered the request I made to her for a submission that I could share here on this WordPress Wednesday in a big way.
This fascinating article on Dr. Seuss who just happens to be one of my favorite authors contains information I never knew and I’m betting if you read you’ll find things within you didn’t know either.
This readers is a perfect example of what thorough research can do when you’re tasked with writing an article such as this.
Thanks to you Phyllis for a fabulous sharing here today.
Readers, please, don’t dare forget to keep reading once this wonderfully written article is through to learn all about Phyllis and her many wonderful books.
DR. SEUSS, WRITER, MAN
By Phyllis Staton Campbell
Taken from Our Special, March-April, 2017
Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2, 1904, died in 1991, La Jolla California.
I have often thought how sad to see a lifetime of working, loving, hating, striving toward goals, compacted in dates and place names. What about that person who has loved the right, hated the wrong; who has bled inside with some secret sorrow? This is true for all of us, but especially true for those who, according to the standards of the world, have found fame.
We’re all familiar with the Grinch, who is determined to spoil the joy of Christmas for those in Who-Ville, and poor old Horton sitting in that tree trying to hatch an egg, although, who on earth ever heard of an elephant in a tree, much less one trying to hatch an egg, for goodness sake! So on the anniversary of his birthday, I set out to find him, Theodor Seuss Geisel, not the writer, that revolutionized children’s books, but the man behind the books.
Certainly his work has spoken to people from the smallest child to the First Lady of the United States. In 1985 Dr. Seuss was awarded an honorary degree from Princeton University. Among the students was Michelle Robinson, who was to marry Barack Obama, becoming the First Lady Of the United States. In 2010, she chose The Cat In The Hat to read to the Nation’s children.
When Theodor was growing up, Springfield was a city of industry. His grandfather had started a brewery, and his father became its president.
Ted grew up in a family that loved wordplay, so it’s no surprise that it is an integral part of his books. His mother’s family owned a bakery. When she was a child, she would make up rhymes listing the pie flavors. When she raised her family, she often sang her children to sleep with the same rhymes. Ted believed that his love of verse came from those pie poems.
Certainly the use of words shaped his life. He never failed a subject, but was something of an indifferent student except for writing, and writing, the kinds of unusual things that later would send his books to the bestsellers list.
His ambition during school days was to write for the school magazine Jacko. He was constantly hanging around the office and was often found there asleep with his head resting on his typewriter.
In keeping with the humor found in his books Theodor was a jokester of the first order. Once, while a guest at what then would be called a house-party, he filled the bath tub with Jell-O.
But there was what might be called a darker side to his life, certainly a sad side.
He and his family suffered much during the first world war. The family was originally from Germany. Although they grieved at the things their former countrymen were doing they were often shunned, and abused verbally with young Theodor suffering especially at school.
In 1920, when prohibition was enacted the family suffered financial losses since the prohibition of alcohol included beer, and the family brewery was forced to close.
Despite his indifference to his studies Ted was accepted by Oxford in 1925 to the delight of his father. Unfortunately he never seemed to fit in at the eight hundred years old college. His fellow students seemed serious, and the lectures bored him. He tried to listen and take notes, but his mind wandered, who knows where. We only know that he doodled, and instead of scholarly notes, the pages of his notebook were filled with incredible creatures—chickens with windmill tails, dogs walking tightropes, and cows with wings. No, Oxford and Ted were not a good match, but it was there that he met Helen Palmer, who was to be his wife until her death in 1967. It was through her encouragement that he became an illustrator.
He dropped out of college and moved back with his parents in Springfield. He and Helen planned to be married, but they didn’t have the money until his career was launched. His father had been so proud of Ted’s going to Oxford, and in spite of the fact that Ted returned home to live, they were never as close as they once had been.
Although he and Helen said they didn’t want children, it was obvious that this was a sad point in their lives. He invented a daughter named Chrysanthemum-Pearl, and dedicated his new book to her. He and Helen sometimes included her on their Christmas cards.
In 1940, Ted’s life was once again affected by war. The Nazis were committing hideous atrocities, and they had to be stopped! Ted didn’t write another children’s book for seven years.
The American people were reluctant to involve themselves in the conflict, feeling that it had nothing to do with them. Through his cartoons, Ted tried to illustrate the danger of ignoring the conflict going on in the rest of the world.
When the US entered the war in 1941 he helped write films training soldiers with his character Private Snafu, who did everything wrong, thus illustrating the way to “do it right.”
At the close of the war he turned his talent toward unity and awareness. One cartoon showed Uncle Sam sitting placidly in the bath tub with his eyes closed, surrounded by a shark, a crocodile, and a poisonous bug.
In 1984, Ted received the Pulitzer Prize. He was so surprised that at first he thought it must be a hoax. This prize for American literature had never been given to a writer of children’s literature.
It is impossible here to do justice to the man, who through his imagination and dedication changed the way children read forever, so I close with his own words to Audrey, his second wife, shortly before his death, “I’ve had a wonderful life. I’ve done what I’ve had to do. I’ve lived where I’ve wished to live. I had love. I had everything.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phyllis Staton Campbell, who was born blind, writes about the world she knows best. She calls on her experience as teacher of the blind, peer counselor and youth transition coordinator. She says that she lives the lives of her characters: lives of sorrow and joy; triumph and failure; hope and despair. That she and her characters sometimes see the world in a different way, adds depth to the story. She sees color in the warmth of the sun on her face, the smell of rain, the call of a cardinal, and God, in a rainbow of love and grace.
Although she was born in Amherst County, Virginia, she has lived most of her life in Staunton, Virginia, where she serves as organist at historic Faith Lutheran church, not far from the home she shared with her husband, Chuck, who waits beyond that door called death.
She is a graduate of the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (DPT for the Blind). Further education, Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, Virginia; Creative Writing, The Hadley Institute for the Blind; Creative Writing Creative Writing Institute; Novel Writing University of Wisconsin-Madison
Books by Phyllis Campbell.
New Release 2017
Where Sheep May Safely Graze
Other books by Phyllis Campbell…
COME HOME MY HEART, 1985.
REPRINTED IN 2001
FRIENDSHIPS IN THE DARK, 1996 Reprint 1997
The Evil Men Do 2006, true crime, written under contract for the family of the victim.
Who Will hear Them Cry, April, 2012
A Place To Belong August, 2012
Out of the Night February, 2014
If you would like to contact Phyllis email her at: Pcampbell16@verizon.net
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