Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

In The Doghouse

Posted by Elyse Bruce on October 15, 2010

The phrase “in the doghouse” has been around longer than most people care to remember but is it really that old? 

On October 13, 1946 the Los Angeles Times wrote an article on General Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell on his death from an incurable ailment of the liver.  Over the years, Stilwell had risen to the rank of general, having served in the Philippines, with the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I, and as an instructor at West Point.  In the article outlining his outstanding career, a journalist wrote: “The Army was in the doghouse then, with the pacifists riding high.”

Oddly enough, however, the phrase “in the doghouse” isn’t much older than that.  The phrase was first published in 1904 in J.M. Barrie‘s story Peter Pan .

It began in 1902, when J.M. Barrie introduced Peter Pan in several chapters of The Little White Bird.  Very early on in the Peter Pan mythology, he was a  as a birdlike infant.

By 1904, the story had become a play and it premiered in London, England (UK) with Nina Boucicault originating the title role. This established the Neverland mythology, however, it also spoke of Mr. Darling living in the doghouse because of his behaviour towards Nana.  He is allowed out of the doghouse and back into the matrimonial home only after his children return home from Neverland.

Before Peter Pan, it would appear there was no mention of anyone being “in the doghouse.”

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