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.
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.
I know, pink seersucker is REALLY gay.
I also include my other two brats.
Post Script: In todays New York Times, Stephen Holden gave a thoughtful review of My Dog Tulip.