Hugh Lofting was born in Maidenhead in 1886. He studied engineering in London and America and his work as a civil engineer took him all over the world. He interrupted his career to enlist in the army and fight in the First World War. Wanting to shield his children from the horrors of combat, including the fate of horses on the battlefield, he wrote to them instead about a kindly doctor who could talk to animals. After the war he settled with his family in Connecticut and it was from there that he published his Doctor Dolittle books. The Story of Doctor Dolittle was published in 1920, followed by twelve more in the series. The highly acclaimed author died in 1947.