The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

December 1, 2015

December 1, 1883

Henry Joel Cadbury, (December 1, 1883 to October 7, 1974) has been described as "one of America's most distinguished biblical scholars and a founder of the American Friends Service Committee "

His books include:

Jesus: What Manner of Man (1947)
George Fox's Book of Miracles (1948)
The Book of Acts in History (1955)
The Eclipse of the Historical Jesus (1964)

One biographical sketch tell us that Henry Cadbury:

.... was part of the American branch of the same Quaker family famous in the United Kingdom for chocolate and social reform. ....

Cadbury graduated from Haverford College in 1908, he returned to Harvard for a Ph.D. in Biblical literature. His thesis was “The Style and Literary Method of Luke.”...

World War I was a turning point in the life of this Quaker.

In September 1917, the Philadelphia Press obtained and published an AFSC letter with Cadbury’s signature asking young Quaker men to keep the group updated on their situations. The headline: “Quakers prepare for acts which may violate the law.” Cadbury was becoming notorious as a pacifist spokesman,[while teaching at Haverford College.]

The hysteria described below mirrors that currently splashing in the American airwaves.

In Germantown,[Philadelphia] anti-German sentiment was so intense that a protective box was placed over the neighborhood’s monument to its German settlers. Liberty Loan ads targeted Kaiser Wilhelm personally: “Your Liberty Bonds are pledged to a holy cause in purging the earth of this unspeakable Hun!” At the Society of Biblical Literature, a scholar suggested that Americans break their dependence on the German scholarship Cadbury revered....

To Cadbury, it all seemed a bit much—particularly when early German peace overtures only seemed to inflame the blood lust. So, in October 1918, he wrote the Ledger a letter to the editor he soon regretted. “Never in the period of his greatest arrogances and successes did the German Kaiser and Junkers utter more heathen and bloodthirsty sentiments than appear throughout our newspapers today,” went one passage.

Press and public, wrote Cadbury, were indulging in an “orgy of hate” that could produce only a temporary peace.

Reaction was immediate. Germany could never be punished enough, clamored Ledger readers, who insisted Cadbury didn’t care about the victims. “Hate of the Hun is a Christian virtue,” said a Philadelphia writer. Another remarked on the “appropriateness” of Cadbury’s remarks emanating from Haverford College. The Philadelphia Bulletin reported darkly that Cadbury had failed to subscribe to Liberty Bonds.

No one at Quaker Haverford stood up for Cadbury. A meeting with the college president went poorly. The alumni association demanded his removal.....

Remembered for his gentle wit and self-effacing modesty, Cadbury went on to be a leader in civil rights and liberties, peace, and justice issues. He was a founder (in 1917) of the American Friends Service Committee, which he led through numerous triumphs and crises.

Accompanying this article from which we quote, is this picture. Not of a cat, but an honorable man.

Cadbury was at this time, married. We learn from his biography (Let This Life Speak: The Legacy of Henry Joel Cadbury, Margaret Hope Bacon, 1987 ) that the holiday season in 1915 saw his engagement to Lydia Caroline Brown. And also in the subsequent household:

There was always a cat, whom she invariably called "Boozie," and sometimes a rabbit as well.

Cadbury was, from 1934 to his retirement in 1954, holder of the the Hollis Professorship of Divinity, a Harvard post. He also served as chairman of the American Friends Service Committee, which he had helped found as we read above. In 1947 he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the Religious Society of Friends.

November 30, 2015

November 30, 1667

Jonathan Swift (November 30, 1667 to October 19, 1745) was the greatest satirist in the English language. His good friends were fellow members of the Scriblerus Club, Alexander Pope, and John Gay. Though a Whig at heart, he was made Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin for his pamphleteering on behalf of the Tories, prior to 1713. In addition to classics like Gulliver's Travels, (1726) he wrote a lesser known work, Directions to Servants (1745, after his death.) This work is glossed by Dan Herzog (Household Politics: Conflict in Early Modern England, 2013) as also satire. Which makes Swift's directive for servants, say at an inn, to check Swift's bed “lest a Cat or something else may be under it," I guess, satirical. 

After his death in 1745, he was buried in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. On his memorial tablet is an epitaph of his own composition, which says that he lies “where savage indignation can no longer tear his heart.

November 29, 2015

November 29, 1918

Madeleine L'Engle (November 29, 1918 to September 6, 2007) had a rare ability to speak to audiences with both religious and scientific concerns. Does the fact her books are categorized as children's or young adult explain her unique niche? Explain of course is not the word I want. L'Engle said she liked cats and dogs, but her biography suggests dogs were her favorite pets.

The April 12, 2004 issue of the New Yorker had a nice interview with our subject. Apparently her kids did not forget portrayals in her books they felt revealed too intimate of details.

The Meet the Austins series is typical in mentioning cats, like one named Prunewhip, who is exceptionally ugly. I myself cannot imagine an ugly cat.

In a book, Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L'Engle in Many Voices (Leonard S. Marcus, 2012) where various friends recall the author, one notes that she let cats get on the table, and lick food. One of those interviewed is Thomas Cahill, the noted author. L'Engle had invested a large amount of money in a company he started, and then she lost it all when the company failed. She would not let him apologize, "It is only money," she told him. Cahill said this response "was one of the most extraordinarily generous things anyone had ever done for me."

That may be part of her appeal: a genuine ability to integrate your words and your actions. That is not common. 

November 28, 2015

November 28, 1899

Frances Yates (November 28, 1899 to September 29, 1981) was an English scholar whose association with the Warburg Institute exemplifies that institution's original and important work. Her bibliography contains works on figures of Renaissance hermetic significance, such as Dr. John Dee.

Her book, The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age (1979), concerns that doctor who she contends was 'one of the most influential figures in the thought of Elizabethan England'.

A more detailed account of the importance of Yates' research is available at Slate. There we learn of the historian's life:

Yates, who was born in 1899 and wrote most of her major works in her 60s, had no formal education until she enrolled at the University College London in the early 1920s. (Her father, a shipbuilder, was also self-educated, having taught himself to read.) After getting an M.A. in French, she worked as an independent scholar, publishing books on Renaissance history and culture while caring for her ailing parents, until she found an intellectual home at the Warburg Institute, an interdisciplinary research institution loosely affiliated with the University College. “Warburgian history,” as Yates called it, sought to transcend nationalism by emphasizing pan-European ideas and culture. This unifying dream was exactly what Yates needed, in her head and in her heart. The two world wars had traumatized her—her brother was killed in the first, and her father during the Blitz, while Yates herself volunteered as an ambulance attendant—exacerbating her already melancholy temperament.

Yates’ illustrious friends included the likes of Franz Boas, Ernst Gombrich, and Hugh Trevor-Roper, as well as several close female companions, but she never married or had any romantic relationship that we know of. (Her diaries contain oblique references to an early devastating “event.”) A former student remarked, “It wasn’t an interesting life in the emotional or physical sense, only in the mental,” but Yates’ biographer Marjorie Jones disagrees, describing Yates as a solitary yet “passionate” figure who fits in “the long line of independent women historians of the Victorian Age who researched and wrote history on their own, outside the constraints of formal education from which they usually were excluded.” Yates, Jones also writes, was a “depressive, moody, frequently unhappy woman whose salvation until her death was incessant work and an intense spiritual life.” She died in 1981.

It is in 
Marjorie Jones's biography of Yates,  Frances Yates and the Hermetic Tradition (2008) that we find a diary entry by Yates mentioning her "little cat."

November 27, 2015

November 27, 1247

Matthew Paris, a medieval chronicler and cartographer, was probably born around 1200. One of the first firm dates is a papal order sending this monk to Norway, dated November 27, 1247. This was a visit to deliver a message from the French king to the Norwegian king. Paris was born in England and was based at St. Albans Abbey in Hertfortshire, as a Benedictine monk.

Paris is responsible for the earliest maps of Great Britain we have; we quote the British Library, which has some copies:

This is the most comprehensive and artistically successful of four maps of Great Britain drawn by the 13th-century historian Matthew Paris, who was a monk at St Alban’s Abbey. Many geographical features are recognisable. His are the earliest surviving maps with such a high level of detail. They stand out in the history of medieval mapmaking as the first attempts to portray the actual physical appearance of the country rather than represent the relationship between places in simple schematic diagrams.

The accompanying illustration of Scotland they published is below.

The library has this to say about Paris:

He entered the Abbey of St Alban as a monk on 12 January 1217, and was probably born some 17 years earlier. Matthew spent the rest of his life there, apart from visits to the royal court in London, and a year-long mission that took him to an abbey in Norway. As his map shows, St Alban’s was the first stop on the journey north from London, a resting place for travellers who, no doubt, carried the latest news and gossip.

Matthew Paris produced the most important historical writings of the 13th century. His chief work, the ‘Chronica Major’, chronicled events from the creation of the world until 1259, the year he died. For its greater part, the ‘Chronica Major’ is a revision and expansion of an existing chronicle by an earlier St Alban’s monk, called Roger of Wendover. From 1235 onwards, however, it’s the first-hand record of events the author heard about or witnessed for himself.

Paris is one of the most engaging of medieval chroniclers. His accounts are detailed and well informed, with lively descriptions of people involved and analysis of the causes and significance of the events recorded. Matthew’s connections made him a well-placed observer of contemporary affairs. He was on personal terms both with the king, Henry III, and his influential brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall. At their courts he must have gained many insights into domestic and foreign politics.

His writings reveal a man of strong opinions who was not afraid to speak his mind. Being befriended and publicly honoured by Henry III on several occasions did not prevent him from being as critical of the king’s lack of prudence in political matters as he was praising of his piety in religion.

Paris was also an accomplished artist, providing many expert drawings in the margins of his manuscripts to illustrate the events he described. Among these are the first known views and plans of London. This map of Great Britain was intended as a complement to his shorter chronicle of English history.

Besides the accounts mentioned we also learn from The Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe (2014) about Paris's description of the Mongols. 
Michael Pye sets it up this way:

.[W]hen Franciscans on a papal mission reached Kiev they saw for themselves what it meant to be defeated by the Mongols: 'an innumerable multitude of dead men's skulls and bones lying upon the earth'. 'They have no human laws, know no mercy, and are more cruel than lions or bears,' Matthew Paris wrote.'

There were no phones, no printing presses, of course, in this world. When a monk wrote an account the result was not a draft, it was the final copy, the only record, until someone perhaps copied it out again, to share. Matthew Paris did his own illuminations in the margins, also. This image is said to be a self-portrait of Matthew Paris:

November 26, 2015

November 26, 1933

Donald Jerome Raphael Bruckner was born in Omaha on Nov. 26, 1933. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from Creighton University and, as a Rhodes scholar, a master’s in classics and English from Oxford.
We learn this about a book editor for the New York Times, from his obituary in that paper, after his September 20, 2013, death.

Bruckner wrote about bibliomania for that paper in 1982:

Two years ago, needing to get rid of 600 volumes, I decided to sell duplicates....Who needs two sets of Goethe in six volumes? But I’d made different notes in each set: no sale.....I did cull out duplicates from thousands of pieces of poetry I had bought since the 1950s — broadsides, pamphlets, little books bought for 50 cents or $1 years back. When a dealer named his price, I was stunned: If some had appreciated 300 percent in 15 years, what might they be worth when I am old? But I steeled myself and sold them — and then fell ill for a day.

Bruckner, who died with no family surviving him, said this in an essay in 1985:

'The maniacal intensity of a cat's search into the unknown, or even into what it knows very well, is beyond reason, prediction or analysis. The cat seems to assume that either the whole creation is a trick or that nature and all other creatures are incompetent to get things done right. Shuffle papers in a file or move clothes or boxes in a closet and the cat will reexamine every scrap and thread, and make its own arrangements. The underside of a carpet, a hole anywhere, the space behind books on a shelf, cannot be left unexamined by this officious bureaucrat.''

This is a really nicel feline description by a man who was a book editor at the New York Times for 24 years. If he needed any other halos I guess we could add that he was on Nixon's enemies list.

November 25, 2015

November 25, 1884

Susanna Winkworth (August 13, 1820, to November 25, 1884) was a type of Victorian spinster, learned and concerned to help the poor. Her father provided her and her siblings with a comfortable setting in their youth and her, later, on the basis of his occupation as a silk merchant. Susanna's concern to be financially independent is given as the reason she began translating German scholarly works into English.

... Her first major project began as a translated memoir of the German historian and philologist Barthold Georg Niebuhr, but with encouragement from Elizabeth Gaskell and additional materials supplied by [Baron Christian Carl Josias von] Bunsen during her year-long visit to Bonn, the Life and Letters (1851) was largely original. A third volume of translated essays was added to the second edition (1852). In 1854 she published her translation of the Theologia Germanica, a devotional work admired by Luther, and in late 1856 a life and a selection of sermons by the fourteenth-century mystic John Tauler; Charles Kingsley provided prefaces to both volumes. ... The Winkworths [Susannah and her sister Catherine] worked closely together over their early translations, seeking to bring German religious devotion to an England already acquainted with David Friedrich Strauss's Das Leben Jesu. After Julius Hare's death Susanna also completed his Life of Luther (1855),....The two sisters worked together and shared the £150 fee for Bunsen's Die Zeichen der Zeit (translated as Signs of the Times, 1856). In 1858 Susanna published a small book entitled German Love, from the Papers of an Alien. The author was Professor Max Muller, who refused at that time to allow his name to appear.

[Susannah kept house for her brother until he married in 1861]

Although she was an invalid for some time after rejoining her father's household in Clifton, Susanna resumed translation with the three volumes of Bunsen's Gott in der Geschichte (as God in History, 1868-70). ....Susanna's faith had changed with her intellectual experience: once a sceptic, and later a Unitarian, she returned eventually to the Church of England, though she always preferred 'outspoken doubts and objections' to 'passive latent unbelief' ....

Catherine and Susanna did not marry, but their sister Emily did and in a letter to Susanna dated October 22, 1853, we hear a domestic and original voice. Susanna edited Catherine's letters after her death (Letters and Memorials of Catherine Winkworth, ( 1883) and included this letter. Emily writes:

Here have I been half-an-hour hunting for a key, instead of writing to you, and blaming Sarah and myself, and, after all, it turns out that Baby is to blame for the mischief. She is growing almost as good as a cat for bearing the sins of the household on her shoulders, for after being sought for in vain in pockets and drawers, it appeared in the very bottom of her play-basket, where she must have deposited it while I was cutting out her frock yesterday.

We end by quoting again from S
usanna Winkworth's  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article, the source of most of this post: 

Susanna was a philanthropist as well as author. In her district-visiting among the poor of Bristol, she was struck by their difficulty in obtaining decent lodgings. In 1872, therefore, she had several houses in Dowry Square repaired, and let them out in tenements; she also took over the management of a sanitary mission designed to acquaint the poor with disinfectant. The Dowry Square project proving unsatisfactory, she formed in 1874 the company which built Jacob's Wells industrial dwellings, assisting in their design and managing them herself until her death. She also took a great interest in the education of women and in 1878
[became a] member of the council of Cheltenham Ladies' College...

All this is utterly Victorian; it may be that few modern triumphs exceed the intellect and concern exhibited in lives like Susanna Winkworth's.