When Vladimir Nabokov Met Dr. Seuss

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1949, Vladimir Nabokov had the beginnings of Lolita knocking around in his head when he drove to Salt Lake City for the 2nd Writers’ Conference at the University of Utah.

In attendance were Oscar Williams, Wallace Stegner, Martha Foley, and John Crowe Ransom—all formidable figures in the literary world, but none of whom caught the attention of Nabokov quite like former political cartoonist and two-time author Ted Geisel (better known today as Dr. Seuss).

Nabokov took a liking to the writer and illustrator, and Geisel even wrote a butterfly poem for the Russian-born novelist during their time at the conference.

Nabokov described Seuss as “a charming man, one of the most gifted people on this list.”

The mutual admiration continued years later in 1954 when Geisel published Horton Hears a Who!, which contained the character of “black-bottomed eagle” [PDF] named Vlad Vlad-i-koff after Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokoff (the way Nabokov once spelled his name).