Dodie Smith

Writer / Playwright

Born: 3 May 1896
Died: 24 November 1990
Birthplace: Whitefield, Lancashire, England
Best known as: The author of The Hundred and One Dalmations

Name at birth: Dorothy Gladys Smith

Dodie Smith was a successful English playwright of the 1930s who is now more famous for her novels for young readers, I Capture the Castle and 101 Dalmations. She studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and her professional career started off with a bang: Autumn Crocus, Call It A Day, Dear Octopus and Lovers and Friends were all successful plays that made it to Broadway during the 1930s and early 1940s. She lived in the U.S. during the 1940s, overseeing Broadway productions and working in Hollywood. She also published I Capture the Castle in 1948, a novel for young readers that sold well and got good reviews. It was her next book for young readers that made her a household name, 1956's 101 Dalmations -- a book famously adapted as an animated feature by Walt Disney in 1961. Smith returned to the U.K. in 1952 and continued her successful writing career until her death in 1990, publishing stories, novels and memoirs. After her death, I Capture the Castle was rediscovered by readers -- and the film rights were released after a half-century of stagnation -- and Smith's work brought on a new wave of fans. Her other books include the novels The Starlight Barking (1967) and The Midnight Kittens (1978), and the memoirs Look Back with Love: A Manchester Childhood (1974), Look Back with Mixed Feelings (1978), Look Back with Astonishment (1979) and Look Back with Gratitude (1985).

Extra credit: Smith wrote the screenplay for 1944's charming ghost movie, The Uninvited... As a playwright, she used the pseudonym C.L. Anthony until the mid-1930s.

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