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Hugh Lofting (1886 - 1947)

Lofting, Hugh

Hugh Lofting was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, on January 14, 1886 to John Brien Lofting and Elizabeth Agnes Gannon. Lofting attended Mount St. Mary's, a Jesuit boarding school in Chesterfield, Derbyshire until 1904, then went to MIT in the United States, where he was trained as a civil engineer.

While serving in the Irish Guard during World War 1, Lofting began writing letters home to his children that included the character of a country doctor who loved animals. The characters name was Dr. Dolittle. After being wounded, Lofting left the Guard and moved to New York City in the hopes of becoming a writer. He completed his first book, The Voyage of Dr. Dolittle, in 1922. The book was a success and earned him the "Best Children's Book of the Year Award" by The Newberry Committee (an award usually reserved for American authors). Several books followed, including Dr. Dolittle in the Moon (1928), Dr. Dolittle Returns (1933), and Dr. Dolittle and the Secret Lake (1948, published posthumously). Lofting also illustrated all of the books.

"... you will discover that the Doctor is not merely a peg on whom to hang exciting and various adventures but that he is himself a man of original and lively character. He is a very kindly, generous man, and anyone who has ever written stories will know that it is much more difficult to make kindly, generous characters interesting than unkindly and mean ones. But Dolittle is interesting. It is not only that he is quaint but that he is wise and knows what he is about. The reader, however young, who meets him gets very soon a sense that if he were in trouble, not necessarily medical, he would go to Dolittle and ask his advice about it. Dolittle seems to extend his hand from the page and grasp that of his reader, and I can see him going down the centuries a kind of Pied Piper with thousands of children at his heels. But not only is he a darling and alive and credible but his creator has also managed to invest everybody else in the book with the same kind of life." (from the introduction to Dr. Dolittle)

Lofting died in 1947.

Suggested sites for Hugh Lofting:

Encyclopedia article about Hugh Lofting
Texts by Lofting
The Story of Doctor Dolittle
Adventures of a kindly doctor who understands the language of animals and travels to Africa to cure monkeys.

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