Tag: Kittens

Classical Cats: The Feline Muses of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel

The Piano Lesson by Henriëtte Ronner-Knip, 1897.
The Piano Lesson by Henriëtte Ronner-Knip, 1897.

One does not have to be a fan of classical music to be familiar with the works of French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.  The two rivals were part of the Impressionism movement in classical music, a movement inspired by Impressionist painters like Monet, Manet, and Renoir and poets such as Verlaine and Baudelaire.  They were also renowned cat lovers who famously allowed their feline muses to prowl at liberty amongst their papers while composing such masterpieces as Clair de Lune and Boléro. […]Continue Reading

An Unlikely Friendship: The Cat and Mouse of Lord Lucan’s Bailiff

Playing Cat and Mouse by John Henry Dolph (1835-1903).

In the early 19th century, at the Earl of Lucan’s residence at Laleham, there was a very singular cat.  She belonged to Lord Lucan’s bailiff, Mr. Smith, and had the “constant habit” of curling up on the rug before the parlor fire.  According to a story related in multiple 19th century British newspapers, as well as in author Edward Jesse’s 1834 book, Gleanings in Natural History, after the death of her recent litter of kittens, this particular cat struck up a very close friendship with a mouse.  […]Continue Reading

Peter Parley Presents the Treacherous 19th Century Cat

Unknown Title by Henriette Ronner-Knip, (1821-1909).
Unknown Title by Henriette Ronner-Knip, (1821-1909).

If we are curious about the origin and characteristics of an animal today, we look it up on the internet.  Decades ago, we would have used an encyclopedia for such research.  In the early 19th century, however, there were handy books like Peter Parley’s Tales of Animals: Comprising Quadrupeds, Birds, Fishes, Reptiles, and Insects (1835).  In this fascinating book, the early 19th century researcher could learn about such animals as the “Ourang-Outang” and become acquainted with what the author declares are “astonishing facts” and “deep and important reflections.”  As can be expected, these reflections were anything but flattering to that most treacherous and conniving of mammals – the domestic cat.

[…]Continue Reading

Robert Southey and the Cats of Greta Hall

Greta Hall in Keswick by Johann Jacob Weber, 1843.
Greta Hall in Keswick by Johann Jacob Weber, 1843.

Born of humble origins in 1774, Robert Southey went on to become Poet Laureate of England from 1813 until his death in 1843.  A contemporary of 19th century Romantic poets like William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he was an incredibly prolific writer, both of poetry and of prose.  He was also a great lover of cats, as evidenced in his vast correspondence with friends and family.[…]Continue Reading

Grimalkins, Gothics, & Beware the Cat

“I knewe these things wil seem mervelous to many men, that Cats should understand and speak, have a governour among themselves, and be obedient to their Lawes…” (Beware the Cat by William Baldwin, 1570.)

A Naturalistic Cat by Louis Wain, (1860 – 1939).
A Naturalistic Cat by Louis Wain, (1860–1939).

In the year 1553, during the reign of Edward VI, printer’s assistant William Baldwin penned the first English novel ever written: Beware the Cat.  Before this time, all works of fiction in English of short-story length or longer were not original texts.  They were translations or adaptations from other languages, such as French or Latin.[…]Continue Reading

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