Perhaps Lord Coventry, Lady Godiva, and Peeping Tom would have preferred it if Theodor Seuss Geisel hadn’t tried to restore their reputations, however. “The Seven Lady Godivas” was a commercial failure. Only around 2,500 of an initial print run of 10,000 copies sold, according to The Atlantic. “[H]is women aren’t as interesting as the real Lady G.,” Publisher’s Weekly opined, and the prose fell flat. The nudity also wasn’t particularly attractive, either. “I attempted to draw the sexiest babes I could, but they came out looking absurd,” Geisel later reflected (via The Atlantic). He also told The Washington Post that it was his “biggest failure.”
However, the failure of “The Seven Lady Godivas” paved the way for future success, since Geisel chose to focus on children’s books going forward. “I’d rather write for kids,” he reflected later, according to his New York Times obituary. “They’re more appreciative; adults are obsolete children, and the hell with them.” Geisel did write one more book for “obsolete children” eventually: “You’re Only Old Once!” The book was published in 1986 and told the story of an old man dealing with the indignities of aging with the same rhyming narrative and colorful illustrations as Geisel’s children’s titles. He wrote it in his 80s while he himself was battling oral cancer, and it resonated with his aging readers. “The kids I first wrote for. … are not old poops yet but they have their feet in the door,” he said.