Beloved children’s book author and illustrator Philip Dey Eastman—who wrote under the pen name P. D. Eastman—was born November 25, 1909, in Amherst, Massachusetts. After attending preparatory school at Phillips Academy and Williston Academy, he graduated from Amherst College in 1933. He then went on to study at the National Academy of Design in New York City.
In 1936, Philip moved to Los Angeles where he began work in the story department of Walt Disney Productions, doing production design and animation. It was here that he would meet the woman who would become his wife in 1941, Mary Louise Whitham. From 1941 to 1943, Philip worked at Warner Brothers Cartoons.
Enlisting into the Army in 1943, Philip was assigned to the Signal Corps Film unit—a unit headed by Theodor Geisel (who would later become known to the world as Dr. Seuss). Philip did animation for training films and was a writer and storyboard artist on the Private Snafu series for Army-Navy Screen Magazine.
After the war, in 1945, Philip began work as a writer and storyboard artist at United Productions of America. While there, he helped develop the cartoon character Mr. Magoo, and also adapted Theodor Geisel’s children’s record Gerald McBoing Boing into an Academy Award–winning short film. He would remain at UPA until 1952.
Philip and his family—which now included two sons, Alan and Peter—moved from Los Angeles to Westport, Connecticut, in 1954. Philip was doing freelance comic book and television advertising work when he was approached by his friend Theodor Geisel to write for a new series of children’s books he was starting at Random House called Beginner Books.By the time of his death on January 7, 1986, P. D. Eastman had written and/or illustrated 18 children’s books, including Are You My Mother?, Go, Dog. Go!, Sam and the Firefly, and The Best Nest. To date, Random House has sold more than 31 million copies of his books.