Harry the Dirty Dog

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Lion (first published by Harper & Brothers, 1956)

Ursula’s book, introduced by Tessa Waite

This book was brought in to The Story of Books in Hay-on-Wye as part of Tessa Waite’s residency, Story Power. Here Tessa posts about the book and memory of the book shared by Carolyn. Only first names are used in this series of A Book a Day in Hay. Thank you to all those who brought books in and contributed to this project. Tessa Waite has created artists books based on the memories shared with her and these are currently on display at The Story of Books, 20, Castle Street in Hay-on-Wye. 


The book chosen by Ursula is Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham. She loved the book as a child, at the heart of which is the theme of transformation. Harry is a white dog with black spot who gradually turns into a black dog with white spots who is then unrecognisable to his family. He has great adventures, in the streets, on a building site and at the railway station, getting dirtier as he goes. Dogs were always a part of Ursula’s life, her grandmother bought her a miniature dachshund, Marty, when she was 15 and he lived until he was 21.


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Ursula rediscovered the book when she was an art student and bought it for herself. She was delighted all over again by the lively, expressive drawings and the endearing humour of Harry’s experiences. She later shared it with her son who also loved the story. Ursula is a sculptor and when asked how she might describe the lasting impact of Harry, she said that it celebrates the many different ways of getting messy – which has influenced her experimental approach to housework.


Below is a sneak peak of Tessa’s cardboard concertina book that she made in response to Ursula’s memory of Harry the Dirty Dog. Tessa’s reflections on her Story Power residency at The Story of Books will be posted on The Story of Books website, along with photos of the books she made.




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