Thursday, March 5, 2015


The story is our beloved Dr Seuss's version of the legend of Lady Godiva.  The ladies are Clementina (Teenie), Dorcas, Arabella, Mitzi, Lulu, Gussie, and Hedwig. 

Godiva was a real historical figure who lived in the 11th-century city of Coventry, and was married to Earl Leofric of Mercia. According to folklore, she rode naked through the streets to free her people from her husband's oppressive tax regime. Godiva had begged her husband to lift the onerous taxes time and again - but failed to persuade him. Eventually, he said he would only relent if she completed the implausible task of riding naked through the streets - which she agreed to. To preserve her modesty, she asked all the citizens of the town to clear the streets, shutter their windows and look away. According to the story, everybody complied except a tailor called Tom. But after stealing a glance, he was struck instantly blind. He, and people like him, were known forever afterwards as a Peeping Tom. 

In The Seven Lady Godivas: True Facts Concerning History's Barest Family, there is not one lady and one voyeur, but instead seven nude sisters and their respective lovers, the seven Peeping brothers. After the death of their father on his horse, they vow to postpone their marriages until the ladies can uncover the noble Horse Truths, all based around equestrian idioms -- "don't look a gift horse in the mouth," "putting the cart before the horse," "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink," "lucky horseshoe," "horse of a different color," "never change horses in the middle of the stream," and "don't lock the barn door after the horse has been stolen."

Maria Popova of Brain Pickings says when Seuss left Vanguard for Random House in 1939, he asked his publisher to allow him one adult book. The resulting picture book is based on the lady who supposedly rode naked on a horse through Coventry, England, after her husband, Leofric, Earl of Mercia, refused to lower taxes.
Seuss' story features seven nudist sisters who, following the death of their father, refuse to get married until each has brought to light "some new and worthy Horse Truth, of benefit to man."
According to Popova, however, the book was a flop and only 2,500 copies sold. It is now out of print, but copies are available (for a hefty chunk of cash) online. ($60 to $80!!)
In honor of the late author's 111th birthday on Monday,March 2nd, take a peek inside Seuss' nude picture book.  I’m sorry I don’t have the text, but some of the pictures make it easy to guess the sayings.

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Don't put the cart before the horse.

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

Never change horses in the middle of a stream.

Lucky horseshoes.

Don't lock the barn door after the horse has been stolen.

I have to go get undressed; I promised Bud I'd go for a ride----fishducky