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 26, 2014

January 26, 1884

He may have been the model for the Indiana Jones character. Roy Chapman Andrews (January 26, 1884 to March 11, 1960)., explored remote parts of China looking for fossils, and in fact was the first scientist to find a dinosaur egg. All his discoveries went to the American Museum of Natural History, an organization he had, even as a child, desired to join. In fact he became the director of the American Museum of Natural History in 1934. He was the type of modern adventurer who writes up all his travels and Andrews has a long bibliography; his book on memoirs, An explorer comes home: further adventures of Roy Chapman Andrews (1947) treats of more domestic stories.

We learn about his cat Lord Jitters, an white deaf Persian, with no doubt blue eyes. When Lord Jitters moved with the family from a New York apartment to a Connecticut acreage, Pondwood Farm, he had a suburban jungle of his own, rather than a sooty rooftop space. It might seem dangerous to let the cat out, but they kept a close watch on him; doted on their cat  is too weak a word for their relations. In fact, among his writing, is a biography Roy Chapman Andrews wrote of the cat, and had published in a magazine. We learn about this because he shares the response he got to the article in this volume of his memoirs.

Lord Jitters's biography had been published only a few days when letters began pouring in. Men, women, and children seemed impelled to write me stories about their own cats. I was asked to become an associate editor of a cat magazine; the director of the Cat Hall of Fame requested a photograph of Lord Jitters to be enshrined with the Cat Immortals; I was deluged with telephone calls; people stopped me on the street to talk about their feline favorites. No other magazine article I ever wrote produced such a fulsome response. At first I was bewildered. Then it was slowly borne in upon me that, by acclaim, I had been elected to the International Society of Cat Lovers without knowing that such a body existed. It was not that the story was particularly good; its merit seemed to have little to do with the matter. The importance lay in the fact that I had publicly proclaimed myself a lover of cats. I had stood up in meeting, as it were, and given a testimonial.

This excerpt gives us a nice glimpse of American upper middle class sentiment in the 1940's.

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