Theodor Geisel, popularly known as Dr. Seuss, was born on this day (March 2) in 1904. If you follow us, you know that we love Dr. Seuss books. But it may surprise you to learn that the children’s book author also wrote a book for grown-ups! You read that right — a Dr. Seuss adult book actually exists, and we’ve compiled 5 facts about The Seven Lady Godivas, that will totally change the way you think about Dr. Seuss!
Celebrate Dr. Seuss Day on March 2nd!
Dr. Seuss wrote a total of 45 books (check out the full list of Dr. Seuss books). Dr. Seuss created beloved characters that will forever live in our hearts. The tales of the Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, and the Grinch made all our childhoods a bit more magical.
But there was another side to Dr. Seuss that few know about. Dr. Seuss published his only book for adults, The Seven Lady Godivas: The True Facts Concerning History’s Barest Family, in 1939.
The Seven Lady Godivas, the Dr. Seuss Adult Book You’ve Never Heard Of
The picture book for adults tells the story of the seven Godiva sisters. The sisters were all nudists — that’s right, they didn’t wear clothes.
After their father, Lord Godiva is thrown from a horse and killed, the sisters refuse to marry until they can warn all of their fellow countrymen of the dangers of horses.
Intrigued? Read on to learn 5 secrets of The Seven Lady Godivas, Dr. Seuss’s little-known adult book.
1. It’s based on the legend of Lady Godiva
Seuss based the book on the legend of Lady Godiva, the Countess of Mercia.
Lady Godiva was an English noblewoman of the early 11th century. The legend goes that Lady Godiva opposed her husband’s taxation on horses, which she viewed as oppressive to the town of Coventry.
In response to her husband’s refusal to grant her request to remit the tolls, Lady Godiva staged a protest. She rode her horse nude through the streets of the town, clothed only by her long hair.
On the day of her ride, officials instructed the townspeople to stay inside and keep their doors and windows shut to preserve her dignity.
According to legend, one man named Thomas watched her ride and was believed to be struck blind or dead. (This is where the name “Peeping Tom” originated.)
2. Seuss called it his “greatest failure”
Although 10,000 copies of The Seven Lady Godivas were originally printed, only 2,500 sold. The book was eventually remaindered, but republished in 1987.
Seuss attributed the failure to a variety of factors. For one, it was released during the Great Depression. Many people simply couldn’t afford a whimsical book of naked women.
Its critical reception among adult readers was another huge factor. After the failure of The Seven Lady Godivas, Seuss vowed to write only for kids, who he thought were more appreciative.
Of adults, Seuss is quoted as saying “Adults are obsolete children and the hell with them.”
Adults are obsolete children, and the hell with them.Dr. Seuss
3. Dr. Seuss decided he couldn’t “draw convincing naked women”
In a 1971 interview with the Boston Globe, Dr. Seuss acknowledged another perceived weakness of his adult picture book.
When questioned about The Seven Lady Godivas, Seuss said: “It was all full of naked women, and I can’t draw convincing naked women. I put their knees in the wrong places.”
In another interview, Seuss said that he tried to draw “the sexist-looking women — but they just came out looking ridiculous.”
4. Dr. Seuss eventually published one more book for adults
The Seven Lady Godivas wasn’t Seuss’s only book for adults. Even though Seuss said he’d never again write for adults, You’re Only Old Once! A Book for Obsolete Children was released in 1986, on the author’s 82nd birthday.
Seuss began sketching the book when he was in the hospital suffering a series of illnesses. It chronicles the humorous and heartwarming journey of age.
The book, much tamer than his book of nudes, was also much more well-received. You’re Only Old Once! remained number one on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than 60 weeks!
5. Today, the book is worth up to $300
When it was published in 1939, the original price was $2 per copy. However, when it went out of print due to poor reception, copies sold for as low as .25 cents each.
However, today you can find the book on Amazon starting at $57.20. And it’s reported to sell for up to $300 for an original copy!
If you’re an avid book collector who happens to love Dr. Seuss, this is a truly unique hardcover to add to your library!
|More Dr. Seuss!
|List of Dr. Seuss Books
|Dr. Seuss Quotes
|Dr. Seuss Characters
|Dr. Seuss Reading Quotes
|Dr. Seuss Day
|Oh, the Places You'll Go! Quotes
|Dr. Seuss Love Quotes
|Dr. Seuss Adult Book