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.

March 22, 2014

March 22, 1954

Samuel Shellabarger (May 18, 1888. to March 22, 1954) was a novelist famed for the scrupulous research with which he embodied his stories. Such care does not extend to his metaphors. The feline references in his fiction are a tad trite. We read that "the cat glance of Celia glowed with interest," (While Murder Waits, 1937) and about "green eyes, unblinking as a cat's," (Captain From Castile, 1946). Shellabarger taught English literature at Princeton University.

Somehow Shellabarger sensed that another postwar world  would find Renaissance swashbucklers refreshing, after the soul numbing violence of a world war. He dropped the use of pseudonyms for his fiction. Two of his historical novels were made into successful movies: Prince of Foxes, set in Renaissance Italy (and first published in 1947) and Captain from Castile, set in Renaissance Spain (1945). He earned over one million dollars from the movie adaptations.  Lord Vanity, (1953) set in Renaissance Italy, was sold to the movies before his death.

The life of Samuel Shellabarger was one of intellectual swashbuckling. After his birth in Washington DC he was soon adopted by his maternal grandfather, both his parents having died. His grandfather was a distinguished lawyer and the grandson accompanied him when the elder Shellabarger served as a diplomat to Portugal. In 1915 Samuel Shellabarger was assistant military attache at the American Legation in Stockholm, where he fell in love with the daughter of Swedish cavalry office. After their marriage and after the war ended, he finished his schooling at Harvard and settled into academe.

We quote from a newspaper clipping, that after his death he was: 
survived by his widow, the former Miss Vivan Georgia Lovegrove Borg,... whom he married in 1915, and two daughters -Mrs. William H. Rea of Pittsburgh, and Mrs. John Jepson of Worcester Mass. A son, Eric, was killed in action in Germany two days before V-E day.

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