Readersforum's Blog

May 10, 2013

Literary Pets: The Cats, Dogs, and Birds Famous Authors Loved

William S. Burroughs and his cat Ginger in the backyard of his home in Lawrence, Kansas

William S. Burroughs and his cat Ginger in the backyard of his home in Lawrence, Kansas

By Maria Popova

Twain and Bambino, Browning and Flush, Dickens and Grip, Hemingway and Uncle Willie, and more.

The wonderful recent Lost Cat memoir, one of my favorite books of the past few years, reminded me of how central, yet often unsuspected, a role pets have played in famous authors’ lives throughout literary history.

Cats have inspired Joyce’s children’s books, T. S. Eliot’s poetry, Gay Talese’s portrait of New York, and various literary satire, while dogs have fueled centuries of literature, philosophy and psychology, interactive maps, and some of the New Yorker’s finest literature and art. Gathered here are some of literary history’s most moving accounts of famous writers’ love for their pets, culled from a wealth of letters, journals, and biographies.

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