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: Doctor John Dolittle is the central character of a series of children's books by Hugh Lofting starting with the 1920 The Story of Doctor Dolittle. He is a doctor who shuns human patients in favor of animals, with whom he can speak in their own languages. He later becomes a naturalist, using his abilities to speak with animals to better understand nature and the history of the world. Doctor Dolittle first appeared in the author's illustrated letters to children, written from the trenches during World War I when actual news, he later said, was either too horrible or too dull. The stories are set in early Victorian England, where Doctor John Dolittle lives in the fictional English village of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh in the West Country.