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.

February 17, 2016

February 17, 1930

Ruth Rendell,  or as she is sometimes addressed, Baroness Rendell of Babergh (February 17, 1930 to May 2, 2015) wrote a total of 66 books of fiction.

Some notes from her Guardian obituary:

Rendell’s novels included the Inspector Wexford crime series and the psychological thrillers she wrote as Barbara Vine. Her debut,
From Doon with Death, introduced the world to  Wexford in 1964.
Rendell’s death closely follows that of fellow crime writer PD James, her good friend and political opponent in the House of Lords. A tribute by the broadcaster and writer Mark Lawson this weekend called them “the George Eliot and Jane Austen of the homicidal novel: different minds and style but equal talent”. He credited them with saving British detective fiction from the disdain of serious literary critics...

Here is a picture of Rendell from 1997, when she is introduced to the House of Lords.

It sounds terribly nice to have this honor and have your similarly honored friends also there to share it with. This is a way of rewarding the creative people. Those many countries without a monarchy must bow more to the common tastes and values of the ordinary. People need rewards which are not just monetary, as in the United States.

Another honor she received is having a quote from one of her books used in the Oxford English Dictionary.

We quote:

cat flap n. a small hinged flap set into an outer door, wall, etc., which from either side may be pushed open by a cat, allowing it to enter or leave a building; ....

1957 A. Thirkell Double Affair ii. 43 Mr. Choyce had constructed for him, down in the skirting board of the study, a Cat-Flap which he could push open from the outside and so enter the house without disturbing anyone.

1967 J. Montgomery World of Cats 67 (caption) This cat flap shows the principle of the cat door.

1988 R. Rendell Master of Moor (BNC) 74 Peach alone was in the house, having let himself in through the cat flap... He was sitting on one of the kitchen counters, paws folded, tail tucked up, gazing with stately patience at the larger door.

One has to wonder if this was just a editorial tribute choice by some ailurophilic detective fiction fan. This quote from Rendell and its inclusion hardly seems of critical importance. Plus the feline behavior it describes does not cast light on cat flaps or cats. I am still trying to think how a cat sits with folded paws!

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