In this month's Inspirations, Lynn Stuart tells Words & Pictures how she has been inspired by the works of Hugh Chesterman and Theodore Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss!

There are two authors who have inspired me: The first is an Englishman, Hugh Chesterman, and the second is an American, Theodore Geisel, popularly known as Dr. Seuss.


Not only am I inspired by their writing but by their productive careers. Both men were prolific writers and illustrators. 

Hugh Chesterman created a vast amount of work in a relatively short life. Born in 1884, he wrote many children’s books in the 1920s and 30s and edited the children’s magazine The Merry Go Round published in Oxford with his great friend Basil Blackwell. Hugh attended Cambridge, reading history and English. He married Sylvia Wyse West and lived in Islip. He died, age 57, on November 3rd 1941, whilst cycling at Hampton Gay.

Hugh Chesterman edited The Merry-Go-Round

I remember being introduced to Hugh Chesterman after purchasing Number Eleven Joy Street in 2007. Chesterman’s illustration to Vasco da Gama Rounding The Cape Of Good Hope reminded me of Dr Seuss’s beardless lions in If I Ran The Zoo and I thought maybe Chesterman inspired Dr Seuss. So I began collecting all I could on Hugh Chesterman.

Illustration from Number Elelen Joy Street

Illustration from Number Elelen Joy Street

Illustration from Number Elelen Joy Street

Theodore Geisel was born in Springfield, Massachusettes. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1925 where he wrote magazine articles under the name Geisel and Seuss. He entered Lincoln College, Oxford, intending to earn a doctorate in literature. At Oxford he met and married Helen Palmer in 1927 and returned to the USA. In 1936 Seuss sailed again for Europe, the rhythm of the ships engine inspired the poem, And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.

The Britannica writes, “After publishing several more children’s works, Geisel released Horton in 1940; with it he introduced the features that would come to define his books: a unique brand of humour, playful use of words and outlandish characters. It centres on an elephant who is duped into sitting on the egg of a bird who goes on vacation. Despite various hardships, Horton refuses to leave: 

'I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!'


In the end he is rewarded when the egg hatches and a creature with bird wings and an elephant head emerges."

Despite numerous awards, Dr Seuss never won the Caldecott Medal nor the Newberry although he wrote 60 books which sold 700 million copies according to the New York Times, March 4th 2021. My most vivid memory of Dr Seuss is reading The Lorax to my daughter in 1995 and the enjoyment on her face.

Lynn highly recommends The Lorax

Both authors have a great sense of fun and adventure and of course nonsense. For example, one of my favourites is Hugh Chesterman’s Nonsense Songs containing Hundreds Of Things. You can see how he evokes a sense of fun not only through his choice of words but through his use of rhythm and rhyming.

"There’s hundreds of things I mean to do, If I ever get the chance. I’ll paint the garden roller blue, And tear my history books in two, And play with the tigers in the Zoo, And sail the seas with a pirate crew, From Tilbury Dock to Timbuctoo, And harry the coast of France. I’ll tramp the country far and wide, A knapsack on my shoulder; I’ll climb the Alps with rope and guide, And all the peaks that no one’s tried, I’ll find the caves where mermaids hide, And get cut off by the rising tide, And lots and lots of things beside, When I’m a little bit older."


Dr Seuss uses these techniques in the same way, as can be seen in It’s Fun To Have Fun from The Cat In The Hat:


"Look at me! Look at me! Look at me NOW! It is fun to have fun, But you have to know how. I can hold up the cup And the milk and the cake! I can hold up these books! And the fish on a rake! I can hold the toy ship And a little toy man! And look! With my tail I can hold a red fan I can fan with the fan As I hop on the ball! But that is not all. Oh, no. That is not all…"


Hugh Chesterman and Dr Seuss have influenced my writing with this sense of fun and nonsense. In my story Petunia (about a little girl who eats forbidden, bright pink, selenium berries which makes her hair grow very, very long and turn pink and houses all sorts of animals) part of it reads:

From Petunia by Lynn Stuart

Then up from the middle, You never would guess, What crawled from the strands, Of that hairy haired mess, A chicken, two horned toads, Three bunnies, no less, A curly tailed Bischon, Wearing a dress…


The more I read by Hugh Chesterman and Dr Seuss, the more I am impressed with them. It’s just my opinion, but I believe Dr Seuss was inspired by Chesterman in the same way he has inspired me.

I would recommend The Lorax by Dr Seuss, a book very much ahead of its time about industrialisation and its effect on nature.

By Hugh Chesterman I would recommend Proud Sir Pim And Other Verses 1938 because it contains 50 verses. The Joy Street books are compendiums of a variety of authors and illustrators; Hugh Chesterman has on average three rhyming stories in each book. I have found his books on Abebooks and I would think they are in the British Library.

This book by Hugh Chesterman contains 50 verses

Header Image:The Cat In The Hat by Dr. Seuss


Lynn Stuart was born in Britain, attended college both here and in America, returning to Pembrokeshire about eight years ago. After writing about fifteen rhyming children’s books (illustrating six of them) she self-published George Visits Tenby by Lynn Stuart and Tedbury by Jean Bain. 


Anita Loughrey writes educational fiction and non-fiction for primary schools. In her spare time she is working on a fantasy adventure for middle grade. She has two regular slots in the national writing magazine, Writers’ Forum, one about writing for children, the other on author’s research secrets. Find out more about Anita and her books on her website:

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