In July of 1949, Ted Geisel was invited to lecture at a ten-day writers conference at the University of Utah. What company he was in? Vladimir Nabokov and Wallace Stegner. Ted prepared as never before for the visit to Utah by making extensive lecture notes and researching for weeks because he felt that children’s books needed nonsense, excitement, and fantasy and that his voice could help new writers pave the way. He gave lectures and six workshops. He told his audiences, “Why write about the clouds above fairyland when you have better clouds of Utah!”
The writers stayed in a sorority house and played in the pool in the afternoons. He laughed and cavorted with his new literary chums.
After his first lecture, he met Salt Lake City teacher Libby Childs, who asked what they could do to make Ted’s stay happier. He wanted to go to the Great Salt Lake to swim. “I need to know what it feels like”, he told Mrs. Childs. When her three-year-old son, Brad, recited all of “Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose” for him, Ted replied, “I don’t write for kids that young, how does he do it?”
The lasting effects of his Utah visit left Ted exhilarated and wanting to write a textbook on children’s book writing.
Did you know that Dr. Seuss had visited Utah in 1949? Wouldn’t it be a treat to find someone with personal or family stories about this bright and important time in Dr. Seuss’s life?