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.