A free exhibition celebrating our furry friends in literature opened in the Entrance Hall of the British Library
this week. Highlights include:
Original illustrations by much-loved artists including Mog by Judith Kerr, Beatrix Potters Kitty-in-Boots as imagined by Quentin Blake, Gobbolino the Witchs Cat by Ursula Moray Williams, Fred by Posy Simmonds and two illustrations for T. S. Eliots Old Possums Book of Practical Cats by Axel Scheffler
Lewis Carrolls own copy of the exceptionally rare third edition of Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice found there (1893), in which the author notes his frustration with the printing including a comment on an illustration of Alices kitten
A selection of sound recordings for all ages including a reading of Macavity the Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot, songs from the musical Cats and Disneys The Aristocats and music by The Cure
Edward Lears charming doodles of himself and his cat, Foss, contained within a letter written to a friend in 1879
A 16th century pamphlet on witchcraft describing the activities of Elizabeth Stile and three other notorious witches, with a woodcut image accompanying the description of the black cat or familiar belonging to Mother Devell (who is alleged to have fed it with milk mixed with her own blood)
A letter written by T.S. Eliot to his friend Geoffrey Tandys daughter, Alison, containing a draft of his poem Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer and signed off with his nickname Possum; displayed alongside Alisons reply including delightful drawings of the two cats, on loan from the T.S. Eliot Foundation
Cats on the Page brings familiar and much-loved feline favourites together with the eclectic and unexpected to celebrate the myriad ways in which cats have captured the cultural imagination for hundreds of years. Through an array of poetry, artwork, fables and fairytales from around the world, this free exhibition explores the various literary guises that cats have appeared under throughout the centuries: from comical cats to master criminals, the lovable to the mysterious and magical.
Books, manuscripts and artwork from the British Librarys own collections are displayed together for the first time alongside a number of original illustrations, with loans from Seven Stories, Judith Kerr, Posy Simmonds, Axel Scheffler, Quentin Blake and the T. S. Eliot Foundation. The exhibitions run coincides with the 80th anniversary year of the original publication of Eliots classic poetry collection Old Possums Book of Practical Cats.
Staged in the British Librarys Entrance Hall, Cats on the Page contains family-friendly elements such as a family trail, sound recordings and a childrens reading corner. The accompanying events programme contains events to appeal to all ages, some of which are already sold-out.