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a blog from Eli the Bearded

Dr Seuss's The Seven Lady Godivas

Dr Seuss's The Seven Lady Godivas

A banner on the cover proclaims:

"The true facts concerning history's barest family"


"History has treated no name so shabbily as it has the name Godiva.

"Today Lady Godiva brings to mind a shameful picture — a big blond nude trotting around the town on a horse. In the background of this picture, there is always Peeping Tom, an illicit snooper with questionable intentions.

"The author feels that the time has come to speak:

"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

"A beautiful story of love, honor and scientific achievement has too long been gathering dust in the archives.

"Dr. Seuss
"Coventry, 1939"

(Chapter one — chaters are unnumbered)

"Old Lord Godiva

"On the fifteenth of May in the year
1066, Lord Godiva, Earl of all Coventry,
summoned his daughters to appear before
him in the Great North Hall of the Castle

"For a long silent moment he regarded them proudly, for the seven daughters of Lord Godiva had brains. Nowhere, he thought with satisfaction, could there be a group of young ladies that wasted less time upon frivol and froth. No fluffy-duff primping, no feather, no fuss. They were simply themselves and chose not to disguise it.

"''Girls,'' announced Lord Godiva, ''today I leave for the Battle of Hastings. And,'' he added calmly, ''I'm going by horseback.''


"The sisters looked nervously from one to anotheer. In that day in England, the horse was not taken lightly. True, Lord Godiva had been experimenting with these animals for years. But the horse remaind a mystery, unbroken in spirit, a contrary beast full of wiles and surprises.

"''Come, come,'' chided Lord Godiva, rattling his spurs. ''Don't be so old-fashioned. This is 1066! Definitely, I shall attend the battle on horseback.''"


(No page numbers, it goes on like that for about eighty pages, alternating a page of text and a page with a picture. Oh, Lord Godiva dies about two pages further in, killed by his horse. And the total explanation for why all the seven sisters, and only them, are always through sun and snow in the nude is in that line "chose not to disguise it."

(This is the rare Dr Seuss book aimed at adults, humorously spinning a yarn of where "horse truths" like "Don't change horses mid-stream" come from. The sisters have a pact to research horses before they can marry, and each finds one and then runs off with a brother Peeping.

(My quoted text preserves, modulo typos on my part, punctuation and line breaks in the book. Italics I leave out. I was using the 1987 reprint — "Re-Issued by Multitudinous Demand" it reads on the cover.)

Final thought: only one Lady is blond, mom isn't here and the Lord is bald with a white beard

Although written for an adult audience, it's less of an "adult" book than say, The Curious Sofa by Edward Gorey. I wouldn't read it to my kids (I expeect they would get bored) but I wouldn't worry about them flipping through it. All of the nudity is Barbie nudity: no nipples and no pudenda. It's funny, but not a lot so. If not for the Dr. Seuss connection, it wouldn't be worth a mention.

Final thought: The Curious Sofa is very funny, but only very suggestive, not explicit