"HE WAS VERY FOND OF ANIMALS AND KEPT MANY KINDS OF PETS": 1920 FIRST EDITION OF THE STORY OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE, IN RARE ORIGINAL DUST JACKET
LOFTING, Hugh. The Story of Doctor Dolittle. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1920. Octavo, original blue-stamped orange cloth, mounted cover illustration, pictorial endpapers, original dust jacket. $8800.
First edition of the first Doctor Dolittle title, with color frontispiece, two plates, and 30 in-text black-and-white illustrations. A lovely copy in the very scarce original dust jacket.
Author Hugh Lofting was "creator of the most famous vet of all time (pace James Herriot)—and what a wonderfully sane loony Dr. Dolittle is. The books are absolutely irresistible and deathless—as well as being immensely stylish… Very much collected, as is right and proper" (Connolly, Children's Modern First Editions, 189). Asked about the genesis of Doctor Dolittle, Lofting stated that he came up with the idea during World War I. He recalled: "It was during the Great War and my children at home wanted letters from me—and they wanted them with illustrations rather than without. There seemed to be very little of interest to write to youngsters from the Front: the news was either too horrible or too dull… One thing, however, that kept forcing itself more and more on my attention was the very considerable part the animals were playing in the World War" (Firsts). After being injured in the war, Lofting used his letters to compile a book. With the help of fellow writer Cecil Roberts, whom Lofting met on a trip home to the United States, Hugh Lofting secured publication at Frederick A. Stokes in New York. Soon after, he became one of the most celebrated children's authors of all time. Peter Parley to Penrod, 138.
Book with minor bump to lower corner and two expertly repaired short closed tears to front free endpaper and flyleaf, cloth fresh and near-fine; unrestored original dust jacket with chip to rear panel, shallow wear to ends of slightly toned spine and corners, but quite clean and bright, extremely good. A lovely and desirable copy in the very scarce dust jacket.