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.

January 2, 2012

January 2, 1866

Gilbert Murray (January 2, 1866 to May 20, 1957) was a socially well-connected scholar who wrote poetry and achieved fame as a translator of Greek plays, and as an historian. This latter refers to books like his 1913
Four Stages of Greek Religion. After 1908 Murray was the Regius Professor of Greek at the University of Oxford. All his five chldren became independent thinkers; his daughter Rosalind married Arnold Toynbee. Murray also led an active public life, and though known for his distrust of organized religion, he actually had a sensitive recollection of the unknown which surrounded man's rational talents. He also was very tender toward animals. The author in his memoirs, published in 1960 under the title Gilbert Murray: an unfinished autobiography [it includes essays by his friends] recalls as a youth, that "Ruddy came round...and we walked in Kensington Gardens, and talked about books.His surname I should mention was Kipling. I thought him extraordinarily clever and exciting though there was something in him that repelled me. He threw his stick at a cat..."

His biographer Francis West expands upon the connection between religion and tenderness for animals:

"Gilbert Murray offered another explanation of his strong feelings against organized religion which had little to do with his own direct religious experience. The roots ....were indeed to be found in his childhood. It was the cruelty to animals that had revolted him to the point of contemplating suicide at The miracle of the Gadarene swine set off a moral rebellion in him; it seemed ...'monstrously cruel to drive...a lot of unoffending pigs over a precipice'...As an older man his nerves could be shattered for the day by seeing a cat run over in a London street."

This is recounted in Gilbert Murray, a life, by Francis West (1984).

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