"YOU'LL BE SURPRISED HOW YOU'VE CHANGED THE APPEARANCE OF THE CAT-IN-THE-HAT…": EXTRAORDINARY ARCHIVE OF DR. SEUSS LETTERS ON HIS PERSONAL AND BEGINNER BOOKS LETTERHEAD, COMPRISING TWO TYPED LETTERS (ONE WITH AN ORIGINAL COLOR ILLUSTRATION OF THE CAT IN THE HAT) AND ONE AUTOGRAPH LETTER, ALL WRITTEN AND SIGNED BY DR. SEUSS TO CHILDREN'S AUTHOR "MRS. DR. T" A.K.A. CECILIA TURULLOLS, DISCUSSING CHRISTMAS, THE AUTHOR'S LIFE, AND HIS PHILOSOPHY ON EDUCATION
SEUSS, Dr. Archive, comprising one autograph letter signed and two typed letters signed. La Jolla, California, 1972. Two sheets of pale blue Dr. Seuss letterhead, each measuring 7 by 10-1/4 inches, each p.1., and two sheets of cream Beginner Books letterhead, measuring 8-1/2 by 11 inches, pp. 2.
Fascinating archive of letters from Dr. Seuss to an admirer, children's author Mrs. Dr. T, comprising one signed autograph letter with an original color illustration by Seuss and two signed typed letters, discussing Mrs. Dr. T's Christmas book, expressing gratitude for a box of presents, and explaining the philosophy of Beginner Books and its reason for avoiding educational endeavors.
The first letter, a signed typed letter dated "April 25, 1972" and addressed to Mrs. Dr. T, pseudonym of Cecilia Turullols, the author of A Helper for Santa, reads in full: "Dear Mrs. Dr. T: Thank you for taking the time and the trouble to send me such a charming letter. And such a delightful book, so beautifully inscribed! Very few writers seem to know how to give something positive to the story of Christmas… and you are among that fortunate few. With very best wishes, [signed] T.S. Geisel, Dr. Seuss."
The second letter, written entirely in Dr. Seuss' hand and dated "May 18, 1972," reads in full: "Dear Mrs. Dr. T. and Dr T.: Your amazing box of unexpected goodies arrived just an hour ago! You'd be surprised how you've changed the appearance of the Cat-in-the-Hate, who is now in surgery, wearing both appurtenances. You'd also be surprised to see how much happier my studio looks with precious cat, ANNA, perched high on the bookcase radiating warmth (and a slight confusion on being suddenly in a new home). The only present I haven't yet sampled is the tape recording. And for two silly reasons: 1. My recorder is away being fixed. 2. In twenty minutes I'm rushing out of here to catch a plane for Hollywood, for a week's work on my new T.V. Special… thence to Yugoslavia to show my last two pictures behind the iron curtain. Then onward, east. So I'll have to forego the pleasure of the tape until Ireturn… some time in August. Honestly, I don't know why you're so generous and so good to me! Thank you! (And I'd thank you in a thousand more words if I didn't have to finish my last minute packing.) You're truly lovely people! Dr. S." This letter also bears an original hand-colored illustration of the Cat-in-the-Hat, apparently wearing a surgical mask and cap. The letter was written after the March 1971 premiere of The Cat in the Hat. At the time he wrote this, Seuss was in the process of jet-setting to L.A. to oversee the production of the follow-up to that program, Dr. Seuss on the Loose, which would eventually premiere in October of 1972. The show, hosted by the Cat in the Hat, featured animated adaptations of The Sneetches, The Zax, and Green Eggs and Ham. Seuss' trip behind the Iron Curtain was relatively unsurprising, though admittedly quite adventurous. He wrote both Horton Hears a Who and The Butter Battle Book, both works dealing with the Cold War.
The final letter, typed on "Beginner Books" stationery and dated "August 28, 1972," reads in full: "Dear Mrs. Dr. T. Thank you for your pleasant letter of August 16th. It's very flattering to hear from someone who has expended so much serious thought on the subject of my books. I agree with you entirely about the great importance of Phonics in teaching kids to read. And I believe that these two books of mine, which you marked with red to demonstrate phonic principles, could be of help in teaching kids to sound the sounds and say the words. And the inclusion of two 'Instructions to Parents' pages could also help any parent who is trying to teach his child to read and recognize punctuation marks. However, more than ten years ago, when Beginner Books was founded, the founders went through a long soul-searching period, during which we established our publishing philosophy. We discussed with educators throughout the United States the major problem that was then confronting us… namely: Just how far should we get involved with actual teaching? And we finally came to the following conclusion: We should not involve ourselves with teaching at all. Rightly or wrongly, we decided not to teach, but rather to supplement the work of teachers. Since then, we feel that Beginner Books has served its purpose of giving kids books that kids want to read and will enjoy reading, after the basics of reading have been taught to them by others. In brief, we publish Supplementary Readers which are used in homes, public libraries and school libraries in ever English speaking country in the world. We all still feel that this should remain our one simple objective and that although your suggestions would undoubtedly make our books better 'teachers', they would very much lessen their effectiveness as 'readers'. Thank you against for your great interest and for your very well thought out suggestions. I hope you will understand why we do what we do and why we can't do otherwise. With very best wishes and kindest personal regards, [signed] Dr. Seuss, Theodor S. Geisel." At the time Seuss wrote this letter, Beginner Books was thriving. The company's hands-off philosophy with regard to teaching was a massive success. After all, the company had begun with Seuss responding to the needs of teachers, writing directly from a list of 348 words essential to first-graders that had been published in Life magazine. The result was The Cat in the Hat, a book that could be used in schools and at home and that contained none of the visible teaching tools—phonics guidance or instructional pages—that could have turned off reluctant readers. With photocopies of Turullol's original letters to Dr. Seuss, as well as the teaching materials she suggested adding to Seuss' books.
Original mailing creases, faint soiling to first letter, staple and paperclip marks to third letter. Very nearly fine condition.