Here are 10 things Theodor Seuss Geisel said about his life, his work, his inspiration, and bow ties.
1. On how a childless person could write so well for kids: "You make 'em, I amuse 'em."
2. On writing books kids actually want to read: "I have great pride in taking Dick and Jane out of most school libraries. That is my greatest satisfaction."
3. On where he gets his ideas: "I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Forka Pass. There is a little town called Gletch, and two thousand feet up above Gletch there is a smaller hamlet called Über Gletch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock fixed. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideas from them." (He wasn't a fan of this question, apparently.)
4. On what would happen if he were invited to a dinner party with his characters: “I wouldn't show up."
5. On why he always wore bow ties: "You can't dribble on bow ties."
6. On the inspiration for Horton Hatches the Egg: "I was in my New York studio one day, sketching on transparent tracing paper, and I had the window open. The wind simply took a picture of an elephant that I'd drawn and put it on top of another sheet of paper that had a tree on it. All I had to do was to figure out what the elephant was doing in that tree."
7. On whether that trick ever worked again: "I've left my window open for 30 years since that, but nothing's happened."
8. On how long he expected The Cat in the Hat to take to write: "I figured I could knock it off in a week or so."
9. On how long it really took: "A year and a half."
10. On nonsense: “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities."
Sources: Dr. Seuss: American icon (Philip Nel); "Fifty Years of The Cat and the Hat" (NPR, 2007); Your Favorite Seuss; "Children's Author Dr. Seuss, 87, Dies" (Dallas Morning News, 1991); ?The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators (Anita Silvey).
Jason English is Editor-in-Chief, Digital for mental_floss. He runs the @mental_floss Twitter account and created the board game Split Decision. His three daughters (all under six) are only sometimes embarrassed by his antics.