Did Dr. Seuss have children? His attitude towards kids

Dr. Seuss

It’s fascinating to think that Dr. Seuss’ legendary career as a children’s book writer happened due to a chance meeting on Madison Avenue in the mid-1930s. Dr. Seuss was on his way to incinerate his first manuscript following nearly 30 rejections by publishers when he bumped into Mike McClintock, an old friend from Dartmouth College. 

McClintock and Dr. Seuss signed a contract, and Vanguard Press published Dr. Seuss’ first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street

Dr. Seuss wrote more than 60 books, delighting millions of children worldwide. This article explores whether he entertained children at home. 

Dr. Seuss didn’t have biological children but had an imaginary child

Dr. Seuss married twice and didn’t have biological children. He married Helen Palmer, a teacher he met at Oxford, in 1927. Helen claimed that she convinced Dr. Seuss to abandon teaching for a career as an illustrator and cartoonist. 

“Ted’s notebooks were always filled with these fabulous animals. So I set to work diverting him; here was a man who could draw such pictures; he should be earning a living doing that.”

Dr. Seuss wrote his first children’s book in 1931, around the time Helen learned that she couldn’t biologically have children. “I don’t think that’s a coincidence,” Philip Nel, author of Dr. Seuss: American Icon, told PBS. “In some ways, he wrote for children to speak to that need in himself.”

The Smithsonian Magazine reports that Helen and Dr. Seuss had an imaginary child named Chrysanthemum-Pearl, who reportedly ‘helped mask the Geisels’ anguish that Helen could not have children’. 

Nel writes Chrysanthemum-Pearl was the first imaginary child Dr. Seuss featured on a Christmas card. Dr. Seuss wrote about adoption, but there’s no evidence that he and Helen considered adopting a child. 

Helen died of suicide in 1967 following a long battle with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Her suicide note read (per history.com):

“I am too old and enmeshed in everything you do and are, that I cannot conceive of life without you. My going will leave quite a rumor, but you can say I was overworked and overwrought. Your reputation with your friends and fans will not be harmed.” 

Dr. Seuss’s second wife, who had two children from a previous marriage, said Dr. Seuss was happy without kids

Speculation suggests Helen killed herself after learning about Dr. Seuss’ alleged affair with a close friend, Audrey, who became the author’s second wife. 

In 2000, Audrey told The New York Times that Dr. Seuss was happy without children. She explained:

“Ted’s a hard man to break down, but this is who he was. He lived his whole life without children and he was very happy without children. I’ve never been very maternal. There were too many other things I wanted to do. My life with him was what I wanted my life to be.”

Audrey had two children from a previous marriage; she sent them away to school after marrying Dr. Seuss. “They wouldn’t have been happy with Ted, and Ted wouldn’t have been happy with them,” Audrey said. “He’s the man who said of children, ‘You have ’em and I’ll entertain ‘em.’”

Audrey’s mother also sent her away to school, but for different reasons. “She’s a better person that I am, Gunga Din,” Audrey said. Audrey told the outlet that she apologized to her children for not being ‘the best of mothers’, which helped repair their relationship.