I Capture the Castle
Dodie Smith was born in Manchester in 1896. Aged 17 she set off for London, determined to become an actress, but she struggled to find work, living off baked beans in freezing hostels. While working at the famous Heals department store, Dodie turned to writing plays instead, and her first was an overnight sensation - the newspapers excitedly declared 'Shopgirl Turns Playwright!'. During the war she moved to Hollywood with her husband, and it was there, spurned on by regret and homesickness for the English countryside she'd left behind, that Dodie began writing
I Capture the Castle. When a friend gave Dodie a dalmatian puppy (presented in a hat box!) this began a life-long love of the spotty dogs. Dodie's well-loved novel
101 Dalmatians was inspired by her experiences of raising fifteen puppies. She lived in a ramshackle cottage with her husband and many other animals until her death in 1990, aged 94.
"There are many good reasons to read Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle: it provides excellent advice about dressing on a budget (dye all your clothes sea-green); how to cope when the man you love falls for your elder sister (keep a diary) and your stepmother dances naked in the rain (ditto). Given that most teenagers believe their parents to be mad - and vice versa - the novel also serves as a helpful guide to recognising the fine line between eccentricity and outright insanity" Guardian "A book for anyone who is young, poor, fed up and yearning for something exciting to happen" Irish Times "Unputdownable and loved by teenagers and adults everywhere." Observer "Everyone I've passed it on to has found it a hit - it works every time, for absolutely everybody" -- Nigella Lawson "So what makes these different to any other set of classics? In a moment of inspiration Random House had the bright idea of actually asking Key stage 2 children what extra ingredients they could add to make children want to read. And does it work? Well, put it this way...my 13-year-old daughter announced that she had to read a book over the summer holiday and, without any prompting, spotted The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas...and proceeded to read it! Now, if you knew my 13-year-old daughter, you would realise that this is quite remarkable. She reads texts, blogs and tags by the thousand - but this is the first book she has read since going to high school, so all hail Vintage Classics!" National Association for the Teaching of English