Literature / Doctor Dolittle

Doctor Dolittle is a book series written by Hugh Lofting with a total of 12 books; the first, The Story of Doctor Dolittle, was published 1920. The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle won the second Newbery Medal.

Doctor Dolittle has learned how to talk to all animals, and, although he is able to treat humans, doesn't like to, so basically he's a vet.

The character has repeatedly appeared in radio and TV and a box office bomb musical, Doctor Dolittle starring Rex Harrison, in 1967. The books also inspired the Dr. Dolittle series starring Eddie Murphy, about a modern-day doctor with an innate gift for talking to animals.

Doctor Dolittle even has his own song, "Talk to the Animals", which originated in the 1967 film starring Rex Harrison.

The books of this series in publishing order are:

Tropes appearing in the books:

  • A Head at Each End: The Pushmi-Pullyu
  • Absent-Minded Professor: the Doctor to a certain extent, mainly in terms of money.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: invoked According to Mudface, Noah and his sons were not nice people - nor, in fact, the progenitors of humanity.
  • Animal Talk: averted to the point that learning new animal languages often drives the plot.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle. While in the Capa Blanca Islands, Doctor Dolittle makes a wager with a powerful nobleman that the noble will end bullfighting in the islands if the Doctor can perform more tricks with a bull than any of the local matadors. He then talks to the bulls and convinces them to help him put on a show so that they won't have to die in the bullring any more.
  • Black Sheep: the good Doctor is this, from the point of view of his respectable sister Sarah
  • Bowdlerization: Pretty severe case in both the illustrations and the text. The books have been out of print in their original forms since the 1970s
  • Can't Get In Trouble For Nuthin': In Doctor Dolittle's Return, Dr. Dolittle tries in vain to get himself thrown into jail, so that he can write his book in peace and quiet. When he finally succeeds, the animals break him out and he has to start over again.
  • Carnivore Confusion: it's a little strange to read about the doctor eating sausages and such when Gub Gub the pig is a main character.
  • Cats Are Mean: the moon cats hold themselves apart from Otho Bludge's ideal society. This is also why a cat had never been part of the Dolittle household until Itty accompanied them back from the moon.
  • Circus Episode: In Doctor Dolittle's Circus, Doctor Dolittle and his animal friends join a circus to make some money, taking advantage of his ability to talk to the animals to put together impressive performing-animal acts.
  • Cool Boat: (after a fashion) The Great Glass Sea Snail
  • Cunning Linguist
  • Decision Darts: "Stab a globe/atlas randomly with a pencil" is the good doctor's #1 technique for deciding where to go. It's even how he ended up on the moon.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Tommy Stubbins. An unusual example in that he is first introduced in The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, so the earlier set books are all 3rd person omniscient.
  • Giant Flyer: Jamara Bumblelily, the moth large enough to double as an interplanetary spaceship
  • The Great Flood: remembered fondly by Mudface the turtle
  • Heroic Dog: Jip was once awarded a solid gold dog collar for saving a man's life
  • Kindly Vet: Naturally. Being able to talk with his patients helps even more.
  • Nice Hat: The good Doctor's iconic top hat, and his most prized possession
  • Noble Savage: Long Arrow, the world's greatest naturalist
  • Omniglot: He spends a lot of time learning animal languages.
  • Perpetual Poverty: although the Doctor prefers it this way
  • Rousseau Was Right
  • Significant Name: The good Doctor's name is interpreted as such by the people of Spider Monkey Island, who promptly reappelle him "Jong Thinkalot"
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Former Trope Namer.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: to an unfortunate badger who happens to chew through a lot of it, gold is just something that gets unpleasantly stuck in your teeth