Horace Walpole's Cat
This delightful compendium focuses on one of the best-loved poems in the English language, but in the process it takes the reader on an engaging romp through the literary, intellectual, and cultural world of the eighteenth century. It brings alive a host of engaging characters: Horace Walpole himself (one of the great letter writers of all time, wit, raconteur; the curmudgeonly Dr. Johnson (who nevertheless had “a very fine cat indeed”) and his sometimes recalcitrant biographer James Boswell; and a cast of “handsome cats,” including Selima and Zama.
In February 1747, Selima the tabby fell into a Chinese blue and white porcelain tub in Walpole's house in London's Mayfair and never returned to dry land. The poem by Thomas Gray, “Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold-fishes,” was written as her mock epitaph.
Here is the true history of the event, and a look at the sparkling social and cultural life of the period. It is beautifully illustrated with Richard Bentley's original series of designs for the poem, William Blake's wonderful watercolors of some fifty years later, and the unpublished color illustrations produced in the 1940s by the noted children's book illustrator Kathleen Hale, of Orlando the Marmalade Cat fame.
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angel forms animals Arlington Street armour's Tyrian hue Arthur Onslow azure flowers become Bentley's Blake's blue-and-white Boswell called Cambridge century China Chinese porcelain tub Christopher Christopher Smart claw colours creatures death designs Dictionary Dodsley Dr Johnson drawing drowned ears of jet edition Eight times emerging emerald eyes engraving fav'rite Favourite Cat female heart fish Flaxman gaz'd gold despise goldfish Gothic Gray's Ode Hale's hapless nymph heart can gold Hodge Horace Walpole illustrations James Boswell Jean-Jacques Rousseau Kathleen Hale kittens lake later letter Malignant fate Marmalade Cat Noel Carrington Orlando the Marmalade Patapan paws pensive Selima poet portrait printed published Richard Bentley Robert Dodsley Samuel Johnson Selima Smart South Mimms spaniel stanza story Strawberry Hill tabby cat tabby kind Tamerlane text box Thomas Gray Thomas Gray's poem Tub of Gold verge her feet verses Walpole's cat wat'ry watercolour William Blake words written wrote Zara