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 9, 2016

February 9, 1880

There are writers and then there are "Irish writers." James Stephens (February 9, 1880 to December 26, 1950) was an Irish writer. So Irish that James Joyce contemplated Stephens as a co-author for Finnegan's Wake. So Irish that Stephens could actually speak Irish.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica  Stephens', The Crock of Gold (1912), with its rich Celtic theme, ... established his fame. Like many of his contemporaries, Stephens was greatly affected by the Easter Rising (1916), a rebellion of Irish republicans against the British, and his book The Insurrection in Dublin (1916) remains a classic account.

That Insurrection happened 100 years ago this year. In Stephens' accoount, the damage extended beyond people and buildings:

The continuation of ...[the] story was less
gloomy although it affected the teller

"There is not," said she, "a cat or a
dog left alive in Camden Street. They
are lying stiff out in the road and up on
the roofs. There's lots of women will be
sorry for this war," said she, "and their
pets killed on them."

The Britannia article ends: "Stephens was active in the Irish nationalist movement, but by 1940 he was living in London, where he made frequent radio broadcasts until his death in 1950."

We'll end with this graphic, by Arthur Rackham  for Stephens' Irish Fairy Tales (1920); the story titled "Mongan's  Frenzy."

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