Puddleby-on-the-Marsh

Puddleby-on-the-Marsh

“My name was Tommy Stubbins, son of Jacob Stubbins, the cobbler of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh; and I was nine and a half years old.  At that time Puddleby was only quite a small town. A river ran through the middle of it; and over this river there was a very old stone bridge, called Kingsbridge, which led you from the market-place on one side to the churchyard on the other.”

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

Capital O

Hugh Lofting

This is a page dedicated to John Dolittle, M.D., the animals’ Doctor, whose exploits were documented, illustrated and published by Hugh Lofting in thirteen volumes between 1920 (The Story of Doctor Dolittle) and 1952 (Doctor Dolittle’s Puddleby Adventures).

In the 1950s, I would stay with one or the other set of grandparents for most of the summer.  My mother’s parents, who lived in Evansville, Indiana, had the advantage of living in a much larger city than my father’s parents, and therefore had access to a very well-stocked library.  During summers in Evansville, I read primarily science fiction; the library there had a number of back issues of Galaxy Science Fiction; few libraries in those days would expend the shelf space to hold such tripe, but Evansville was, thankfully, different.  This was where I first read Hal Clement’s Mission of Gravity, Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars, and a hundred other classics; I would lie on the porch swing and use my foot to push it from side-to-side instead of back and forth.  Grandma and Gramps had an old yellow tomcat adopt them, and Tom would lie on my chest purring while I read and swang.  When he had had enough attention, Tom would yowl, scratch my chest and jump down. Dr. Dolittle holds his hat

Central Library, Evansville, IndianaCarnegie Public Library, Mattoon, Illinois
My father’s parents lived in Mattoon, Illinois, where the library, being much smaller, fit comfortably on a city block with wide lawns on all sides.  Since it didn’t have as much money, their science fiction section was much smaller than that in Evansville, and I spent more time reading other genres.  The library was a big square old-fashioned building, still standing as far as I know, with the librarian’s desk in the middle, in front of stairs, and a minimum of support columns and walls.  It was possible to see most of the first floor from the checkout desk; everything was wood, and smelled of old books.  They had no air-conditioning, so the windows were often open, and in the afternoons the sun would shine in them and reflect off the linoleum tile floors, which were kept highly waxed. They came at once to his house on the edge of the town

One evening when the Doctor was asleep in his chair I don’t know when I first encountered Doctor Dolittle, but I know that one reason I looked forward to spending summers in Mattoon the most was the supply of Hugh Lofting’s books.  When I first started staying there, the library didn’t have so many, but later they managed to get all twelve major Dolittle books.  Each summer, I would re-read all the ones I had read the year before, and, if I were lucky, would get to read the one or two new ones the library had acquired.  The last two or three years there, I would get to the library in the afternoon, check out my books, and then have to wait for my grandfather to deliver all the flowers from the shop before he could pick me up on his way home.  I would spend the hour or two reading the new Dolittle, read on the way home in the car, read during supper, and stay up in the living room until I had finished.  I remember my grandfather coming in and telling me it was three in the morning, that I should be asleep. “Just one more chapter!” I said, but I stayed awake and read until I finished.

The Doctor Dolittle Books

Publication Order

  1. The Story of Doctor Dolittle (1920)
  2. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922)
  3. Doctor Dolittle’s Post Office (1923)
  4. Doctor Dolittle’s Circus (1924)
  5. Doctor Dolittle’s Zoo (1925)
  6. Doctor Dolittle’s Caravan (1926)
  7. Doctor Dolittle’s Garden (1927)
  8. Doctor Dolittle in the Moon (1928)
  9. Gub Gub’s Book (1932)
  10. Doctor Dolittle’s Return (1933)
  11. Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake (1948)
  12. Doctor Dolittle and the Green Canary (1950)
  13. Doctor Dolittle’s Puddleby Adventures (1952)


Chronological Order

  1. The Story of Doctor Dolittle (1920)
  2. Doctor Dolittle’s Post Office (1923)
  3. Doctor Dolittle’s Circus (1924)
  4. Doctor Dolittle and the Green Canary (1950)
  5. Doctor Dolittle’s Caravan (1926)
  6. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922)
  7. Doctor Dolittle’s Zoo (1925)
  8. Doctor Dolittle’s Garden (1927)
  9. Doctor Dolittle in the Moon (1928)
  10. Doctor Dolittle’s Return (1933)
  11. Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake (1948)
  12. Gub Gub’s Book (1932)
    contains ten tales told by Gub-Gub, with no chronological information in them]
  13. Doctor Dolittle’s Puddleby Adventures (1952)
    contains eight stories set throughout the Doctor’s career]


Others
  1. Doctor Dolittle’s Birthday Book.  I used to have a copy, but sold it because there is nothing in it that adds to the Canon.  All quotations and illustrations used were taken from other books in the series.
  2. Doctor Dolittle:  A Treasury.  Adds nothing to the canon; all the pictures are, like the text, excerpted from previous publications.  The only thing it has to offer is an afterword by Christopher Lofting.
Doctor Dolittle:  A Treasury

  Count by Muhammad Muquit
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