Dr. Seuss Charlottesville, Dr. Seuss whoville charlottesville, the grinch … every year the questions renew …Is Charlottesville the inspiration for Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”?
It’s that time of the year again – for the past several years around 1 December, the searches start to show up in my blog statistics – “Grinch Charlottesville,” “Is the grinch from Charlottesville, Virginia?” “Is Charlottesville the inspiration for Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas?” “Charlottesville Whoville” and on and on ….
I’m finally responding to UVA08’s (who has since moved on to a new pseudonym, I believe) question from three years ago –
Of course Chalbemarle is the center of the universe. Whatever town can say a doctor suess story was based on their town. Seriously though, is the Grinch based on Charlottesville? Whoville=Hooville, Moutain Grinch lives on = Monticello Moutain, Insanely perfect town=Charlottesville??? Someone help me out please
First, Ace can tell you what it’s not. It’s not Monticello, as many a doofus tourist believes it to be. It’s also not Dr. Seuss’ house. That particular rumor started in correlation with the rumor that How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ “Hoos down in Hooville” was based somehow on a certain local university’s Hoos down in Hooville. Only problem being that Theodor Geiselâ€”a.k.a. Dr. Seussâ€”spent his whole life in New England, Europe and California, and his “Hoos” were actually “Whos down in Whoville.” The fact that the story depicts Hoos/Whos as absolute saints surely didn’t hurt that particular tall tale’s traction with a student body that’s not exactly known for its modesty and perspective.
So – if it makes you feel better about Charlottesville to tell friends that Dr. Seuss’ inspiration for the green guy whose heart eventually triples in size came from Charlottesville – go ahead. It’s a neat story.
While killing Charlottesville urban legends – the HooK dispels the one about Rio Road (why the i in Rio pronounced as one says “eye” – l?t -)
“Rio,” which means “river” in Spanish, was most likely used as a name for the old mill and bridge on this road because of their proximity to the Rivanna River. But the Spanish word is pronounced “Ree-o,” some may point out. True, but locals at the time may have opted for the long “i” sound perhaps because it fit with the local pronunciation of the “RY-vanna” river. No one knows for sure, but they do know this: it was never Route 10.
Update 11 December 2009: The Newsplex has a story on this as well – “Urban Legend Claims “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is based on C’Ville” –
‘People are always surprised to learn the truth about it because its nothing like most people imagine,” says Dr. Jared Loewenstein, a UVa Reference Librarian.
For years, UVa’s Head of Reference has been proving the myth untrue, stating that Seuss’s book is merely fiction, and not about the ‘Hoos.
“Originally in the book, who’s were actually spelled w-h-o-s not h-o-o-s, and that fact seems to have gotten lost somewhere in the whole story.”
Since the Hoo spelling similarity has been addressed, let’s put another coincidence to rest, like the “house on the hill” reference.