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A Book At Bed Time

Updated on February 1, 2014

A Perfect End To The Day

For many of us the perfect way to end the day is to unwind with a good book. Just as a piece of music can inspire,uplift or take us to another place, so too can a good book, but at a slower pace, leaving us in a happy frame of mind & ready to enjoy a good night's rest.

Ever since I was a young boy & was proficient enough to read, I've always enjoyed reading a book before gently slipping off into 'the land of nod'. A book at bed time is like a bridge between sleep & dreams before we have to face whatever the next day brings

Talking To The Animals.....!

Amongst the many I enjoyed in my younger days were Hugh Lofting's wonderful stories about Dr Dolittle. Here was this amazing man that could talk to the animals in their own language, with the help of his parrot polynesia, forever heading off on exciting adventures along with Jip the dog,Dab Dab the duck,Gub Gub the pig & Too Too the owl. In fact, so impressed was the English novelist Hugh Walpole by 'The story of Dr Dolittle' that he described it as 'the first real children's classic' since Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in wonderland'.

Hugh Lofting's Background & Inspiration.....

So what inspired Hugh Lofting to write such timeless classics for 'children in years & children in heart' as he put it? Hugh Lofting was born in Maidenhead, England, in 1886, one of six children born to John & Elizabeth Lofting. He had a childhood love of animals & nature, even keeping his own 'zoo' in his mother's linen closet until she discovered it! (Interestingly in 'The story of Dr Dolittle' he has to sell his piano to raise funds, so he lets the mice that have been sleeping in it live in a bureau drawer instead). After leaving boarding school,Hugh Lofting trained as a civil engineer,doing some of his degree at the Massachusetts institute of technology, finishing it at the London polytechnic. After working in Canada & west Africa he returned to America in 1912 & married his first wife Flora Small, & settled down in New York. Their children Elizabeth & colin were born in 1913 & 1915 respectively.

World War 1 Begins....

1914 saw the start of world war 1, 'The Great war'. English Politician Harold MacMillan said he was born into a world where everything would get better & better, but "Suddenly, unexpectedly, one morning in 1914 the whole thing came to an end " . As for Hugh Lofting, he initially worked for the British ministry of information. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Irish guards (his mother was Irish), & was in Flanders & France in 1917/18. Apart from being shocked & upset at the human suffering during the war, Hugh Lofting was deeply distressed by how the animals were treated, particularly the horses.It's thought that about 10 million horses died during the first world war,& Lofting found it upsetting to see the destruction of regimental horses that had been wounded in battle. He was also greatly impressed by the bravery of the horses & mules during the fury of the battle. He could hardly write home to his children about the horrors of war or the terrible suffering of the animals, so he wrote to Elizabeth & colin about a Doctor who valued & cared for the animals, treating them kindly & doing his best to help them, something that wasn't happening in his real life surroundings at that time.

Back In The USA....

In 1918 Hugh Lofting was struck in the thigh by a piece of shrapnel & was eventually invalided out of the army. He & his family took a boat from England back to New York in 1919, when he certainly proved to be in the right pace at the right time. The British novelist & poet Cecil Roberts was on the same ship & was sitting in a neighboring deckchair. Lofting though would vanish around six in the evening to read to his son. He was asked by Roberts to show him the manuscript for Dr Dolittle. Impressed by Lofting's stories,Roberts recommended him to his publisher. When the book came out in 1920, Hugh Lofting sent a copy to Cecil Roberts along with a personal inscription.

In Search Of A Better World....

Hugh Lofting used the Dr Dolittle stories to show his readers that communication with others helps to create a better world. The idea of a peaceful world with everyone living in harmony appealed greatly to him. He realized the importance of teaching children good values & to get on with all types of people from a young age, that we all have our story to tell & a place in this world. He didn't like falseness or hypocrisy. He left behind a wonderful treasury of stories to be enjoyed by' children in years & children in heart'.

On The Radio....

'Book At Bedtime' is a long running Radio series from the BBC which offers a selection of fiction,modern classics & new writers. Each book is serialized over a period of two weeks,usually being read by well known Actors. For uk residents, you can listen to it on BBC Radio4 92.4-96.1FM ,Long wave 198. The show can also be heard on TV: sky 0104,Free view 704 & Virgin 904. And if you miss all those you can catch it on the BBC i player !

Books educate,enlighten, inform & inspire. There are certain elements, feelings & atmosphere in a book which can't always be replicated in a film, that stretch, widen & fire the imagination of all ages. They are a lovely way to bring the day to a close, & send us off into a good night's sleep filled with happy thoughts. So, why not read 'A book at Bed Time', tonight- & every night if you want!

some of my animals that I talk to!

'Let me in!' Ussy decides he'd rather be in the warm instead of out in the rain!
'Let me in!' Ussy decides he'd rather be in the warm instead of out in the rain!
Tigs & Remy in the porch, sitting on top of the carpet & posing!
Tigs & Remy in the porch, sitting on top of the carpet & posing!

Bed Time Reading Through The Years

Hugh Lofting's Dr Dolittle
Hugh Lofting's Dr Dolittle | Source
Alice in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass
Alice in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass | Source
The First Part Of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast Trilogy
The First Part Of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast Trilogy | Source

Dr Dolittle Film Trailer 1967

Dr Dolittle Title Sequence 1967

Alternative Trailer For Do Dolittle


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    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 7 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Apart from the 39 steps, I'm also reading mervyn peake's 'Titus Groan', & recently read Ian Flemming's 'chitty chitty bang bang' ! I often dip into the oxford book of quotations too as it gives a taster of many books & poems. What are you currently reading?

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      What other books do you like to read now?I love to see how our reading exands and so do our interests.Your hub is worth reading again and again.

    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 7 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Many thanks Dream on!I always read books as a young boy, especially at night, & I still do! currently reading John Buchan's 'The 39 steps' for the umpteenth time. There's been 3 film versions, each differing from the book in some way. There's certain elements in a story that can only be truly conveyed by a book. Enjoy your bed time reading!

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      I just read a book before going to sleep and it brought me back to your hub.The memories are great.I remember having a book filled with all nursery rhymes as a young child.Now it is a lot of non fiction stories about people and their lives.Great information.

    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 7 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Many thanks for stopping by & for your lovely comments vocalcoach!Enjoy your book at bed time! :>)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      What an enjoyable hub this is! I can always be found reading a book just before bedtime. I think it's a very good habit and a healthy thing for the brain as well. Thanks very much ~ vocalcoach

    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 8 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Hi Agvulpes! glad you enjoyed the hub.doing a cryptic crossword puzzle is a unique way of ending the day. Have fun, & thanks for your kind comments

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 8 years ago from Australia

      wilbury steve, I did have a night time habit of reading but found that if it was too good a book I could not put the book down and used to read all night. My switch-off at night now is solving a cryptic crossword puzzle (not a hard one mind).

      Thanks for a very interesting Hub :-)

    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 8 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      cheers oliversmum! glad you enjoyed it. I hope your Grandchildren enjoy Dr Dolittle & Alice, they're both excellent reading. There's nothing quite like losing yourself in a good book :-)

    • oliversmum profile image

      oliversmum 8 years ago from australia

      Wilbury steve. Hi.Like a good many folks, reading good books are a passion with me. This hub was extremely interesting with some great information. Dr Dolittle and Alice in Wonderland are perfect books for my Grandchildren right now, and they do love to read, which makes me very happy. Thank you for such a wonderful hub. :) :)

    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 8 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      you're so right paul, like music, books can take you to another time & place. Enjoy!

      Hi Tony! you had some great reading to start you off!

      Glad you still enjoy it.

      All the best


    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      I also love to read before going to sleep. A wonderful habit. My reading as a kid was Hardy Boys and Biggles and Arthur Ransome. But they certainly got me reading and I've never stopped!

      Love and peace


    • profile image

      Paul 8 years ago

      I've always enjoyed reading a good book - it takes you out of this world - there are so many great ones out there!

    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 8 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      As long as you enjoy a good read of your choice, whatever time suits you best! Thanks for your kind comments :-)

    • profile image

      poetlorraine 8 years ago

      just before you go to sleep, that would not go down well in this house..... maybe during the afternoon, great hub thanks for the information,

    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 8 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      you're right,it's important to keep the imagination alive & to stimulate it. Enjoy your reading!

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 8 years ago

      Good suggestions.It keeps your imagination alive where the t.v. makes your mind (thinkless)kind of just plain lazy.I try to read when I can.I wish I did it more as a kid.

    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 8 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      cheers Darlene! It's a great idea to put your own children's names into the story. Hope you enjoy your book at bed time!:-)

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Yes, this is a wonder hub, and when I would read to my kids I would add their name as the person in the book. And, whenever I would read their names they would giggle. It was always fun to read to them, I also love to read at my bedtime.

    • wilbury steve profile image

      Steve Webb 8 years ago from Great Wakering, England

      Thanks ezhuthukari! The 1967 film with Rex Harrison is much closer to the books & still worth seeing. Thanks for your comments & enjoy your bed time reading!

    • ezhuthukari profile image

      ezhuthukari 8 years ago from Kerala

      I always read a book before going to bed. It is more or less a daily ritual now :-) Now I am reading Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. Have not read Doctor Dolittle books.But saw the movie, which I presume has nothing to do with the original books..Great to know about this great author.:-)


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