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Friday 27 May 2011

Dr Seuss and Typewriters

Just as I was beginning to worry that I was overdoing things, notagain commented, "You're so prolific I can't keep up to comment!" and Rob Bowker was kind enough to respond, "Yes Robert, you are prolific but never dull." Thanks, guys, you've reminded me of Dr Seuss's words:
So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs,
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.
But the real reason I wanted to post on Dr Steuss was as an excuse to use this lovely illustration, The Copy Writer, from The Art of Dr Seuss, a retrospective and touring exhibition.
Dr Seuss may not mean quite as much to Australians as he does to Americans - we have Norman Lindsay and May Gibbs, to mention just two of our own children's classics authors.
But Dr Steuss retains universal appeal, and I am particularly fond of this illustration. It shows the "hooked and harnessed" (by the "system") copy writer, trying to find inspiration and looking up to the high ideal of Shakespeare, as well as the low ideal of money ("beans"), hard up against deadline, with the bellringer in the background, a bin overflowing with waste paper and the production team cajoling him from a hole in the wall. In reality, it seems Dr Seuss was much more relaxed when he typed, head down, untethered and unflustered:
Dr Steuss was Theodor Seuss Geisel (born Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2, 1904; died, aged 87, San Diego, California, on September 24, 1991), best known as a writer, poet and cartoonist. But Geisel also worked as an illustrator for advertising campaigns, most notably for Flit and Standard Oil, and as a political cartoonist for PM, a New York City newspaper. Geisel's birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day.
In the copy writer illustration, the writer is using a big black desktop typewriter, but in real life Dr Seuss preferred a Smith-Corona portable. The photographs above were taken of him in his studio in La Jolla, California, by John Bryson for Time-Life on March 11, 1959, a week after his 55th birthday.

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