HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Hugh Lofting, born 14 January 1886
“The fact that I have been successful merely means that I can write and illustrate in my own way.”
When Hugh Lofting was a soldier with the Irish Guards during World War I, he wrote letters home to his children. He loathed the brutality of war, and did not wish to write about the war to his kids, so instead he told them stories of a doctor from a village called Puddleby-on-the-Marsh who was able to talk to animals. This was how Doctor Dolittle was first created. The Story of Doctor Dolittle was published in 1920, and this first book was followed by eight further adventures (including Doctor Dolittle’s Zoo, Doctor Dolittle’s Garden, Doctor Dolittle’s Caravan etc). Lofting won many awards for his books and they have become children’s classics. Lofting wrote other books for children, some poems, and his only work for adults was Victory for the Slain, a poem about the futility of war.
In the 1960s there were efforts to make the Doctor Dolittle stories more politically correct. This always makes me cross – books should be accepted as products of their time. How else can children of today learn about the racist attitudes of the past and learn better attitudes themselves, if past behaviour is expunged from literature?
Hugh Lofting died on 26 September 1947, aged 61.
What do you think – should Doctor Dolittle be ‘cleaned up’ by the PC Brigade? Tell me your thoughts in the comment area below.
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Doctor Dolittle’s Post Office by Hugh Lofting
Doctor Dolittle’s Circus by Hugh Lofting
Doctor Dolittle’s Garden by Hugh Lofting
Doctor Dolittle in the Moon by Hugh Lofting
Doctor Dolittle’s Return by Hugh Lofting
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