Dr. John Dolittle
The Story of Doctor Dolittle (novel, 1920)
Frederick A. Stokes
John Dolittle was a medical doctor and quiet bachelor living with his spinster sister, Sarah, in the little town of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh in the West Country of England. His love for animals resulted in his household becoming the home of a large menagerie, that eventually scared off his human clients (and his sister). After learning to speak to animals in their own language with the help of his parrot Polynesia, the good doctor decides to open a veterinary practice.
Eventually, Dolittle's compassion and ability to speak to animals results in him gaining a great reputation amongst animals around the world. Eventually, he is summoned to Africa to cure a monkey epidemic. Unfortunately, Dolittle's reputation among animals has not translated into financial success with humans, and facing bankruptcy, he borrows supplies and a ship to head for Africa.
Dolittle has a number of adventures involving pirates and the natives of Jolliginki, who are skeptical of the intentions of white men. However, he is successful in helping to stop the monkey epidemic, and as a result, the monkeys give him a rare pushmi-pullyu, a shy two-headed gazelle-unicorn cross. Upon his return to England, he takes the pushmi-pullyu on tour with the circus and regains some of his fortune.
Later, Dolittle takes up a quest to find a man named Long Arrow, who is purported to be the greatest naturalist in the world. The quest takes Dolittle around the world, with fantastic adventures in the Mediterranea region, South America, on the mysterious floating island of Spidermonkey Island, and even underwater!
In addition to being a skilled physician, Dolittle could communicate with nearly any kind of animal. He also spoke Spanish. He was described as a "round" man, but he also demonstrated some athleticism. He was generally not a violent man, often demonstrating great compassion and making friends and allies along the way.
Dolittle's Human Friends
Matthew Mugg - The Cat's-meat-man from Puddleby. He is a friend of Doctor Dolittle and helps to take care of the doctor's house and garden when the doctor is away traveling.
Prince Bumpo - A prince from the African kingdom of Jolliginki, who has been sent to study at Oxford University by his father. Bumpo carries a green umbrella and prefers to go bare feet, usually discarding any shoes he is given.
Tommy Stubbins - The son of a cobbler named Jacob, who becomes Dolittle's new assistant at the age of 9. Tommy learns how to speak animal languages, and accompanies Doolittle on his quest to find Long Arrow.
Dolittle's Animal Friends
Polynesia - An African Grey parrot. She is able to speak English and first taught Doctor Dolittle the language of animals. She always says she can never remember how old she is, but she remembers that when she came to England, she saw Charles I hiding in an oak tree from the Roundheads: "he looked very frightened".
Gub-Gub - A pig who has written a book, "An Encyclopaedia of Food."
Jip - A dog with a very strong sense of smell.
Chee-Chee - A monkey who was once the property of an organ-grinder.
Dab-Dab - A duck who serves as Dolittle's housekeeper after Sarah Doolittle leaves.
Too-Too - An owl who serves as Dolittle's accountant, and can tell the Doctor immediately how much money he has in the money box.
Pushmi-pullyu - A "gazelle-unicorn cross" which has two heads (one of each) at opposite ends of its body. When it tries to move, both heads try to go in opposite directions.
Public Domain Literary Appearances
- The Story of Doctor Dolittle (1920)
- The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922)
- Doctor Dolittle's Post Office (1923)
- Doctor Dolittle's Circus (1924)
Copyrighted Literary Appearances
- Doctor Dolittle's Zoo (1925)
- Doctor Dolittle's Caravan (1926)
- Doctor Dolittle's Garden (1927)
- Doctor Dolittle in the Moon (1928)
- Doctor Dolittle's Return (1933)
- Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake (1948)
- Doctor Dolittle and the Green Canary (1950)
- Doctor Dolittle's Puddleby Adventures (1952)