War is not something that we like to believe that we can’t manage without. Yet, so often we find things, not in the least related to violent death and brutality, that came about because of an armed fracas.
Hugh Lofting was born in Maidenhead here in England. He went off to America and did a year on a civil engineering course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which he finished off at the London School of Economics. As a civil engineer he travelled the world, eventually marrying and settling down back in America. He was still a British subject though and when World War One raised its ugly head, he joined the Irish Guards and was shipped to France.
Wanting to write home to his children but not wanting to write about the things around him that he considered “either too horrible or too boring”, he began writing little stories for their entertainment. After the war, back in America, these stories began to be pushed and pulled into a children’s book. The theme of these first stories was one that greatly occupies aspiring writers. How to get paid for doing something, you are probably going to do anyway. In ‘The Story of Doctor Dolittle: Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts Never Before Printed’ the Doctor went off to Africa, looking for a solution to this problem.
In real life, the Pushmi-Pullu is a Gazelle/Unicorn cross. That is, two horns at one end and one horn at the other. Nothing to do with Alpacas, Walt.