"I make no claim to be an authority on writing or illustrating for children." -- Hugh Lofting
Hugh John Lofting (January 14, 1886 – September 26, 1947) was a British author, trained as a civil engineer, who created the character of Doctor Dolittle ... one of the classics of children's literature.
Lofting was born in Maidenhead, England, to English and Irish parents. His early education was at Mount St Mary's College in Sheffield, after which he went to the United States in 1904, completing a degree in civil engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He studied at London Polytechnic.He traveled widely as a civil engineer, in Canada, on the Lagos Railway, and Railways of Havana, Cuba. In 1912, he married Flora Small; they had two children.He enlisted in the Irish Guards to serve in World War I. Not wishing to write to his children of the brutality of the war, he wrote imaginative letters that were the foundation of the successful Doctor Dolittle novels for children. Seriously wounded in the war, he moved with his family to Killingworth, Connecticut, in the United States, in 1917. He served in the British Ministry of War Information.His first wife died in 1927, and second wife in 1928. He married Josephine Fricker, in 1935; they had a son named Christopher, who was the executor of his literary estate.
For years it was a constant source of shock to me to find my writings amongst 'juveniles,'" Lofting reported. "It does not bother me any more now, but I still feel there should be a category of 'seniles' to offset the epithet.
Hugh Lofting's doctor from Puddleby-on-the-Marsh who could speak to animals first saw light in the author's illustrated letters to children, written from the trenches during World War I when actual news, he later said, was either too horrible or too dull. The stories are set between the 1820s and 1840s.The Story of Doctor Dolittle: Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts Never Before Printed (1920) began the series. The sequel, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922), won Lofting the prestigious Newbery Medal. Eight more books followed, and after Lofting's death two more volumes, composed of short unpublished pieces, appeared.The series has been adapted for film and television many times, for stage twice, and for radio.
Victory for the Slain (1942) is Lofting's only work for adults, a single long poem in seven parts about the futility of war; the refrain "In war the only victors are the slain" permeates the poem. It was published only in the United Kingdom.