Back to Results
Cover image of Catland
Preorder
Cover image of Catland
Share this Title:

Catland

Louis Wain and the Great Cat Mania

Kathryn Hughes

Publication Date
Binding Type

How cat mania exploded in the early twentieth century, transforming cats from pests into beloved pets.

In 1900, Britain and America were in the grip of a cat craze. An animal that had for centuries been seen as a household servant or urban nuisance had now become an object of pride and deep affection. From presidential and royal families who imported exotic breeds to working-class men competing for cash prizes for the fattest tabby, people became enthralled to the once-humble cat. Multiple industries sprang up to feed this new obsession, selling everything from veterinary services to leather...

How cat mania exploded in the early twentieth century, transforming cats from pests into beloved pets.

In 1900, Britain and America were in the grip of a cat craze. An animal that had for centuries been seen as a household servant or urban nuisance had now become an object of pride and deep affection. From presidential and royal families who imported exotic breeds to working-class men competing for cash prizes for the fattest tabby, people became enthralled to the once-humble cat. Multiple industries sprang up to feed this new obsession, selling everything from veterinary services to leather bootees via dedicated cat magazines. Cats themselves were now traded for increasingly large sums of money, bolstered by elaborate pedigrees that claimed noble ancestry and promised aesthetic distinction.

In Catland, Kathryn Hughes chronicles the cat craze of the early twentieth century through the life and career of Louis Wain. Wain's anthropomorphic drawings of cats in top hats falling in love, sipping champagne, golfing, driving cars, and piloting planes are some of the most instantly recognizable images from the era. His round-faced fluffy characters established the prototype for the modern cat, which cat "fanciers" were busily trying to achieve using their newfound knowledge of the latest scientific breeding techniques. Despite being a household name, Wain endured multiple bankruptcies and mental breakdowns, spending his last fifteen years in an asylum, drawing abstract and multicolored felines. But it was his ubiquitous anthropomorphic cats that helped usher the formerly reviled creatures into homes across Europe.

Beautifully illustrated and based on new archival findings about Wain's life, the wider cat fancy, and the media frenzy it created, Catland chronicles the fascinating history of how the modern cat emerged.

Reviews

Reviews

Hughes narrates her invigorating wealth of information in a clever prose style. It makes for a unique and amusing window onto turn-of-the-20th-century art and culture.

A tremendous literary feat in which we learn about Victorian sociology through the work of a remarkably unique artist.

Through humour, elegance and sheer knowledge, Hughes builds something remarkable.

The average biographer peers into a Great Man's mind. Kathryn Hughes's Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum, in contrast, narrates the lives of five body parts.

See All Reviews
About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
432
ISBN
9781421448145
Illustration Description
30 color illus., 107 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

1. Welcome to Catland
2. Early Terrors
3. The Beforetimes
4. Maternal Material
5. Thinking with Cats
6. It Wasn't Milk
7. Show Time
8. About Town
9. Ca-Doe-Mee
10. Court in the Act
11. Owls and Pussycats: Queer

1. Welcome to Catland
2. Early Terrors
3. The Beforetimes
4. Maternal Material
5. Thinking with Cats
6. It Wasn't Milk
7. Show Time
8. About Town
9. Ca-Doe-Mee
10. Court in the Act
11. Owls and Pussycats: Queer Lives in Catland
12. Odd Fish
13. Cats for Pleasure and Profit
14. Hitched
15. Caterwauling
16. Enter Peter
17. "She Smells of Fish"
18. Cat Man
19. Roundheads and Cavaliers
20. Cat Kin
21. The End of Everything
22. Catland-on-Sea
23. Pussies Galore
24. A Chat with Mr. Louis Wain
25. "Yellow Peril"
26. A Man Perpetually Laughing
27. A Cat May Look at a Princess
28. Metaphysics and Madness
29. Two Tales
30. Crossed Wires
31. Cat Burglar
32. Cat Man in the New World
33. Sisters Under the Cat Skin
34. Speed Demon
35. Cat Catcher
36. Home Front in Catland
37. Cats Under Canvas
38. Catland at the Kinema
39. Felix Turns the Tide
40. The Fire of the Mind Agitates the Atmosphere
41. Scaredy-Cats
42. A Little Man Drawing Cats
43. Hardy's Heart
44. Bedlam
45. The Cat's Miaow
46. Months in the Country
47. Stuffed Cats
48. Wallpaper
49. The Myth of the Disintegrating Cat
50. On Margate Sands
Sources and Resources
Illustration Credits
Acknowledgments
Index

Author Bio
Kathryn Hughes
Featured Contributor

Kathryn Hughes

Kathryn Hughes is emerita professor of life writing at the University of East Anglia and a literary critic for The Guardian. She is the author of Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum and George Eliot: The Last Victorian.