Published: 1939 by Random House; brought back in 1987
Author: Theodor Geisel
Illustrator: Theodor Geisel
Characters: Clementina (Teenie) Godiva, Dorcas J. Godiva, Arabella Godiva, Mitzi Godiva, Lulu Godiva, Gussie Godiva, Hedwig Godiva, Peeping Tom, Peeping Dick, Peeping Harry, Peeping Jack, Peeping Drexel, Peeping Sylvester, Peeping Frelinghuysen
Setting: Coventry, UK

The Seven Lady Godivas is Dr. Seuss's fourth book and one of the only two written for adults, the other being You're Only Old Once! A Book for Obsolete Children. It is relatively obscure and its first publishing in 1939 was considered a failure. The book was remaindered until 1987, when it was republished by "multitudinous demand," only to fail again. It's argued that this flop was one of the factors that led to Seuss's decision to pursue writing solely for children, claiming "adults are obsolete children, and the hell with them."

Dr. Seuss, in the foreward:

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


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Plot Summary

The story is Seuss's twisted version of the legend of Lady Godiva, the wife of an Earl who rode the streets of Coventry naked to oppose his oppressive taxes. Supposedly the single onlooker of the act, dubbed Peeping Tom, was made blind or killed on the spot.

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 they 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."


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See also

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