September 18, 2020 2 min read

Hugh Lofting Facts, Author of Doctor Dolittle

Though I read a few of the Doctor Dolittle books when I was young, there wasn’t much I remembered in them apart from the fact that Dr. Dolittle spoke to and helped animals. I definitely didn’t know anything about the author, Hugh Lofting. So, I decided to revisit it since this year is the 100 year anniversary of the original book.

Just to reiterate for those not familiar with this classic work of literature, Hugh Lofting was an avid animal lover who sought to teach kids about the importance of empathy for animals through his famous writings about a doctor who understood the language of animals, Doctor John Dolittle. 


Here are five facts about the author and I encourage you if you haven’t read the books already, to check them out!

  • Lofting was born in Berkshire, England on January 14, 1886. He had four brothers and one sister and was sent to Mount Saint Mary Catholic boarding school from the age of eight to eighteen.
  • Lofting and his siblings were pushed into pursuing more accepted professions leading Hugh to study civil engineering and architect. He even moved and enrolled in MIT in the United States, eventually returning to England in 1906.
  • Hugh Lofting job hopped for many years and ultimately became a Irish Guard in the British Army. He was disgusted with the cruelty and disrespect towards the animals working in the war. His response to these atrocities was the birth of Dr. Dolittle, whom he used as a way to write to his two young children back at home.
  • Lofting was fully committed to his writing career after returning home to Connecticut in 1917 following a war injury. It was his wife, Flora Small and their children who encouraged him to turn his writing into a book. 
  • His ultimate dream was world peace and sought to accomplish it by reaching children while their ethics were still malleable.

Though the books were blacklisted for a period of time due to perceived racist commentary (eventually revised and re released in 1988) it was clear that Lofting's true intent was one in which all humanity and living creatures co-existed in harmony.

Photo credit: Universal Pictures/Youtube