The Story of Doctor Dolittle
The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts (1920), written and illustrated by the British author Hugh Lofting, is the first of his Doctor Dolittle books, a series of children's novels about a man who learns to talk to animals and becomes their champion around the world. It was one of the novels in the series which was adapted into the film Doctor Dolittle.
John Dolittle, MD, is a respected physician and quiet bachelor living with his spinster sister Sarah in the small English village of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh. His love of animals grows over the years and his household menagerie eventually scares off his human clientele, leading to loss of wealth. But after learning the secret of speaking to all animals from his parrot Polynesia, he takes up veterinary practice.
His fortunes rise and fall again after a crocodile takes up residence, leading to his sister leaving in disgust with the intention of getting married, but his fame in the animal kingdom spreads throughout the world. He is conscripted into voyaging to Africa to cure a monkey epidemic just as he faces bankruptcy. He has to borrow supplies and a ship, and sails with a crew of his favourite animals, but is shipwrecked upon arriving to Africa. On the way to the monkey kingdom, his band is arrested by the king of Jolliginki, a victim of European exploitation who wants no white men travelling in his country.