FIRST EDITION OF THE STORY OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE, INSCRIBED BY HUGH LOFTING—THE COPY OF HORN BOOK FOUNDER BERTHA MAHONEY MILLER
LOFTING, Hugh. The Story of Doctor Dolittle. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1920. Octavo, original blue-stamped orange cloth, mounted cover illustration, pictorial endpapers. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $7800.
First edition of the first Doctor Dolittle title, with color frontispiece, two plates, and 30 in-text black-and-white illustrations, inscribed on the half title: "Sincerely Yours, Hugh Lofting. Jan. 15 21." The copy of Bertha Mahoney Miller, founder and editor of The Horn Book Magazine, with her posthumous bookplate.
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, 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. Without scarce original dust jacket. Peter Parley to Penrod, 138. With the posthumous bookplate of Bertha Mahoney Miller, who founded The Horn Book Magazine, the first periodical to deal only with children's literature, and Horn Book, Incorporated, the publishing company. Miller also founded the Bookshop for Boys and Girls, which was dedicated to providing disadvantaged youth with quality books. Faint child's signature.
Only slight wear to bright original cloth. A scarce near-fine inscribed copy with an interesting provenance.