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The Hundred and One Dalmatians  
First edition cover
First edition cover
Author Dodie Smith
Illustrator Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone
Cover artist Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Children's novel
Publisher Heinemann
Publication date 1956
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Followed by 'The Starlight Barking (1967)

The Hundred and One Dalmatians, or the Great Dog Robbery is a 1956 children's novel by Dodie Smith. A sequel entitled The Starlight Barking continues from the end of the first novel.

At a dinner party attended by the Dearly couple, Cruella de Vil expresses her dislike for animals; subsequently, the couple's new Dalmatian puppies disappear. The Dearly dogs are some of 97 puppies who are kidnapped or legally purchased from various owners, with the intention of skinning them for their fur. Through the co-operation of animals and the "Twilight Barking", the dogs are found in Suffolk, England, and a rescue ensues.


Pongo and Missis Pongo (or just Missis) are a pair of Dalmatians. They live with the newly married Mr and Mrs Dearly (their "pets"; dogs allow humans to think they are the owners when it is really the other way round) and their two nannies, Nanny Cook and Nanny Butler. Mr Dearly is a "financial wizard" who has been granted exemption from income tax for life and lent a house on the Outer Circle in Regent's Park in return for wiping out the government debt. Before marrying, the Dearlys lived in bachelor flats with their nannies. After marriage, they all move in together and the nannies decide to train as a cook and a butler to match their surnames.

Missis gives birth to a litter of 15 puppies, including the Cadpig, Lucky and Patch. The Dearlys are concerned that Missis will not be able to feed them all and the humans join in feeding them. Mrs Dearly looks for somebody to be a wet nurse, and by chance finds an abandoned Dalmatian mother in the middle of the road in the pouring rain. She has the dog treated by a vet and gives her the name Perdita, Latin for "lost". Later Perdita tells Pongo about her lost love and the circumstances that led to her being abandoned in the middle of the road.

Mr and Mrs Dearly are invited to a dinner party hosted by Cruella de Vil, an intimidating and very wealthy woman. They meet her furrier husband and her abused cat, and discover her love of pepper and very high temperatures, and her fixation with furs. They are disconcerted by her suggestion that animals which are not valuable should be drowned, including her own cat's kittens.

Shortly after the dinner party the puppies disappear. The humans fail to trace them but through the "Twilight Barking", a forum of communication in which dogs can relay messages to each other across the country, the dogs manage to track them down to Hell Hall, the ancestral home of the de Vil family in Suffolk.

Pongo and Missis try to explain to the Dearlys where the puppies are but fail. The dogs then decide to run away and find them. They explain to Perdita that she should stay behind and look after the Dearlys.

After a journey across country, they are met by the Colonel, an Old English Sheepdog who shows them Hell Hall and tells them its history. He tells them to rest overnight and that they will see their puppies the next day. They then discover there are 97 puppies including their own 15 and many others who later turn out to have been legally bought. They also discover Cadpig's love of television.

Cruella de Vil appears and tells the crooks in charge of Hell Hall that the dogs must be slaughtered and skinned as soon as possible because of the publicity surrounding the theft of the Dearlys' pups. Pongo and Missis devise an escape plan and agree that they must take all the puppies with them, not just their own 15. They escape on the day before Christmas Eve.

Cadpig is too weak to walk the long distance from Suffolk to London so she is lent a toy carriage by Tommy, the Colonel's 2 year old "pet". When the cart loses a wheel, they have a rest on the hassocks of a country church to escape the cold. The group almost meet Cruella as she drives towards a burning building; Pongo says that they need a miracle and find one when they are offered a lift in a removal van. Having previously rolled in soot to disguise their white hair, they hide in the darkness of the removal van with the help of a Staffordshire terrier whose pets are the movers.

When they return to London they find Cruella's (empty) house. Her cat is still there and invites them in to destroy Cruella's collection of animal skins and fur coats. She gladly joins in as revenge for her lost kittens.

The Dalmatians then return to the Dearlys' house where they are not recognised as they are still covered in soot. They try again, bursting through the door and rolling around on the floor to get rid of the soot. Mr Dearly then recognises them and sends out for steaks to feed them.

Later the cat drops by to tell them Cruella has fled from Hell Hall. It has been put up for sale and Mr Dearly buys it with money he has been given by the government for sorting out another tax problem. He renames it as Hill Hall and intends to use it to start a "dynasty of Dalmatians" (and a "dynasty of Dearlys" to take care of them).

Finally, Perdita's lost love, Prince (the 101st Dalmatian) visits. His "pets" can clearly see that the two wish to be together and allow him to stay with the Dearlys.


Disney adapted the novel into an animated film, released to theaters on January 25, 1961 as One Hundred and One Dalmatians. It became the tenth highest grossing film of 1961,[1] and one of the studio's most popular films of the decade. It was re-issued to theaters in four times, in 1969, 1979, 1985, and 1991. The 1991 reissue was the twentieth highest earning film of the year for domestic earnings.[2]


  1. ^ Gebert,, Michael (1996). The Encyclopedia of Movie Awards. St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0-668-05308-9.  
  2. ^ "1991 Domestic Grosses #1–50". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-04-02.  

Simple English

The Hundred and One Dalmatians, or the Great Dog Robbery is a 1956 children's novel by Dodie Smith. Smith wrote a sequel called The Starlight Barking. In the book, after being invited to a dinner party by the Dearly couple, where Cruella de Vil expresses her dislike for animals, the family's new Dalmatian puppies disappear. The Dearly dogs are added to 97 puppies who are kidnapped or legally purchased from various owners, all of which have been gathered with the intent of skinning them for their fur, to make a coat. Through a fellowship of animals and the "Twilight Barking", the dogs are identified as being in Suffolk and a rescue ensues.

The book was made into a Disney animated movie in 1961, under the title One Hundred and One Dalmatians. In this movie the four adult dalmatians were merged into two, with Missis being named "Perdita" and Prince being omitted totally. There is only one Nanny, who in personality and appearance resembles Nanny Cook. Patch and Lucky are present, but the Cadpig is not by name, though she is included in the Disney Channel TV series. Mr. Dearly, here named Roger Radcliffe, is a musician and composer, rather than a financial wizard like in the book. Saul Baddun is renamed Horace, and Cruella appears to be single. The villains discover the Dalmatians have stowed away on the moving truck, leading to a climactic car chase.

The book has been released under the title 101 Dalmatians at least as far back as a 1989 Egmont UK Ltd release.[1]


  1. Dodie Smith, "101 Dalmatians", Egmont UK Ltd, 1989, ISBN 0-14-034034-3.


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