Dorothy Gladys “Dodie” Smith (3 May 1896 – 24 November 1990) was an English novelist and playwright. Smith is best known for her novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians. Her other works include I Capture the Castle and The Starlight Barking.
About the Writing
A Lancastrian born in 1896, Smith entered RADA but failed as an actress, and went to work for Heal’s furniture store. During this time she became a successful author, inspiring the headline “Shopgirl writes play”. Smith’s story was first serialized in ‘Ladies’ Home Journal’ as ‘The Great Dog Robbery.’
After the success of Dalmations she wrote the odd but delightful fantasy sequel The Starlight Barking, in which the dogs awake in a world where flying canines are running the country and all humans are asleep. Probably a step too far for Disney.
Smith wrote four volumes of biography, nine novels and as many plays, including the charming Dear Octopus, but her crowning achievement began with the unforgettable line: “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”
Smith’s novel I Capture the Castle appeared in 1948, and is both a parallel to and the opposite of The Catcher in the Rye, published three years later. The last line of the book is: “Only the margin left to write on now. I love you, I love you, I love you.”
Did You Know?
Dodie Smith herself was the proud owner of nine Dalmatians, including one named Pongo. At one point, Pongo did have a litter of 15 puppies. One of them was stillborn, but Smith’s husband managed to revive it.
Smith was inspired to write the book after a friend told her “Those dogs would make a lovely fur coat.”
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