Today is both Dr. Seuss' birthday (he would've been 108) and the release date of a rather lamentable adaptation of The Lorax (which is subliminally brainwashing your children).

But did you know that in 1939, Dr. Seuss published a book that would've spurred an equally dunderheaded moral panic if it came out today? That book was the adult picture book The Seven Lady Godivas. The book bombed so badly that the author admitted, "I attempted to draw the sexiest babes I could, but they came out looking absurd."

Indeed, older audiences didn't take to Theodor Giesel's naturist fable — of an initial print run of 10,000 books, only 2,500 copies of Godivas sold. This spurning turned the author off from catering to the grown-up set. From Seuss' 1989 obituary in The New York Times:

Mr. Geisel began using his middle name as a pen name for his cartoons because he hoped to use his surname as a novelist one day. But when he got around to doing a grown-up book — "The Seven Lady Godivas" in 1939 — the grown-ups did not seem to want to buy his humor, and he went back to writing for children, becoming famous and wealthy.

"I'd rather write for kids," he later explained. "They're more appreciative; adults are obsolete children, and the hell with them."

What was the Seven Lady Godivas about? The book was a twist on the legend of famed 11th century nudist tax protestor/Freddie Mercury lyrical muse Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom, the fellow who was blinded after sneaking a peek at her birthday suit. In Seuss' version:

There was not one; there were Seven Lady Godivas, and their nakedness actually was not a thing of shame. So far as Peeping Tom is concerned, he never really peeped. 'Peeping' was merely the old family name, and Tom and his six brothers bore it with pride.

After the nipple-less Godiva sisters witness their father die in an equestrian accident, they A.) refuse to marry; and B.) embark upon a quest to learn a variety of horse-like maxims — for example,"Don't ever look a gift horse in the mouth." Even prior to publication, Seuss himself had serious doubts about the book's popular appeal. In the back of Godivas, he drew a bucket of sap emblazoned with his publisher's name on it.


Behold possibly the only known instances of Seussian T&A. And for more old-school Seuss weirdness, see his 1935 comic strip Hejii.

Via Brain Pickings, Comics Alliance, and We Too Were Children.