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Catland: Feline Enchantment and the Making of the Modern World by Kathryn Hughes

Catland: Feline Enchantment and the Making of the Modern World by Kathryn Hughes

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Some called it a craze. To others it was a cult. Join prize-winning historian Kathryn Hughes to discover how Britain fell in love with cats and ushered in a new era.

‘He invented a whole cat world’ declared H. G. Wells of Louis Wain, the Edwardian artist whose anthropomorphic kittens made him a household name.

His drawings were irresistible but Catland was more than the creation of one eccentric imagination. It was an attitude – a way of being in society while discreetly refusing to follow its rules. As cat capitalism boomed in the spectacular Edwardian age, prized animals changed hands for hundreds of pounds and a new industry sprung up to cater for their every need.

Cats were no longer basement-dwelling pest-controllers, but stylish cultural subversives, more likely to flaunt a magnificent ruff and a pedigree from Persia. Wherever you found old conventions breaking down, there was a cat at the centre of the storm. Whether they were flying aeroplanes, sipping champagne or arguing about politics, Wain’s feline cast offered a sly take on the restless and risky culture of the post-Victorian world.

No-one experienced these uncertainties more acutely than Wain himself, confined to a mental asylum while creating his most iconic work. Catland is a fascinating and fabulous unravelling of our obsession with cats, and the man dedicated to chronicling them.

'Brilliantly researched and unforgettable' Miranda Seymour

'A perfect gift for cat lovers, art lovers, and readers of all persuasions’ Elaine Showalter

'Consistently fascinating … A tremendous literary feat in which we learn about Victorian sociology through the work of a remarkably unique artist' Kirkus

Publication: 25 Apr 2024, Fourth Estate Ltd

ISBN: 9780008365103

Extent: 416 pages

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