My Dog Tulip, J.R. Ackerley’s Ode to Queenie (and dogs the world over)

In anticipation of the Sept.1st release of the animated version of My Dog Tulip I am re-reading J.R. Ackerley’s account of his relationship with his Alsatian Tulip (Queenie).

I am looking forward to the release, the animation appears delightful without being saccharin.

They seem to have captured the books odd charm. I do have a few reservations as all lovers of books do when a favorite is put onto film.

First being the “confirmed bachelor” language, Ackerley was out as a gay man, the bachelor reference irritates, let’s see how it is handled.

Another concern is how they will handle his”gentleman  friend”, particularly Freddie Doyle, Queenie’s original owner and Ackerley’s lover.In the film clip there appears to be another man, I hope it’s Freddie.

In reading Tulip , I am eager to re-read his other writings, most particularly his bio My Father & Myself. It’s been a good ten year since I have last picked it up, but it was a great read.

Ackerley was an interesting fellow: accomplished but seemingly shy and modest, reserved yet  openly gay,  he seems to have been a bit of a homebody, yet part of a very smart set, E.M Forster, Siegried Sassoon, W.H.Auden, and Christopher Isherwood were part of his circle.

Sassoon is the character Captain Pugh in My Dog Tulip , I was unaware of that until I discovered the fact during my research. Ackerley’s  description of Pugh/Sassoon illustrates contradictions of perception. Sasoon/Pugh is a married  to the mysterious Cairn collecting Mrs. Pugh. The Pugh character comes off as odd duck, curmudgeonly,distant, more concerned with his poultry then Ackerley’s comfort. They had served in WWI together, but that bond seems to have been weakened as the good Captain is rarely about. Having read the Sassoon bio by Max Egremont, I have a  very different impression of the man, tall,courtly, handsome;dashing in “fancy dress”, devoted  to the great  society beauty Stephen Tennant yet married to that other great society beauty Hester Gatty.

Perhaps Ackerley knew best, they were friends , or perhaps Ackerley himself was also an odd duck. He did allow Queenie/Tulip to poop on  his host’s floor.

a youthful J.R. Ackerley (on right) with his father Roger

Joe Randolph Ackerley was born 4th November 1896, died 4th June 1967

In addition to My Dog Tulip (1956), and  My Father & Myself(1968), he also wrote Hindoo Holiday(1932) (love the spelling of Hindu) and his only work of fiction We Think The World of You (1960). I have not read the last two, I look forward to it.

In closing I enclose My Dog Daisy.

MY Dog Daisy

I know, pink seersucker is REALLY gay.

I also include my other two brats.

My Dogs Buddy (L) and Speck (R)

Good Night

Post Script: In todays New York Times, Stephen Holden gave a thoughtful review of My Dog Tulip.

Click here for review.


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4 Responses to “My Dog Tulip, J.R. Ackerley’s Ode to Queenie (and dogs the world over)”

  1. PigsnieLite Says:

    Hullo! Nice post about MY DOG TULIP. Hope this gets a wider release — it will certainly be a change from drivel featuring hamster spies or cats with suggestive nicknames.

    • babylonbaroque Says:

      Yes indeed.
      One must love a movie that depicts a dog scooting along on the carpet. WAy too familiar with my 3 brats.
      Ackerley’s account is rich in scatological reference., glad they didn’t shy away from it.
      I haven’t checked where/when it will be released here in LA, must do so.
      Thanks for checking in,
      Leonard @ Babylon Baroque

  2. thetotalfemme Says:

    The “confirmed bachelor” more than irritates — it infuriates! I haven’t seen the movie, but Stephen Holden’s review didn’t give me much hope that Ackerley’s being gay is even addressed. As I read the book, I came more and more to understand that Ackerley’s deep connection to Tulip, his celebration of her true nature, had much to do with the fact that his own true nature, that of a gay man, was not and perhaps would never be enjoyed or celebrated by his own kind. This gives a depth and poignancy to the book and makes it more than a simple “Gosh, I love my dog” book (as delightful as so many of those are), and it would be a shame for that depth not to be acknowledged in this film.

    • babylonbaroque Says:

      I confess I haven’t yet seen the film, if it was shown in LA I seemed to miss it. I will make a point of viewing it. It did seem from the clips that Ackerley’s gayness was overlooked. My Dog Tulip is far more then a dog lover romancing his pup, I agree with your observations. Have you read My Father Myself ?
      It’s really wonderful.
      Thanks for posting, take care,
      Leonard

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