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.

July 19, 2016

July 19, 1896

Archibald Joseph Cronin, ...[July 19, 1896 to January 6, 1981] born in 1896, was a novelist, dramatist and writer of non-fiction who was one of the most renowned storytellers of the twentieth century. His best-known works are The Stars Look Down, The Citadel, The Keys of the Kingdom and The Green Years, all of which were adapted to film. He served as a Royal Navy surgeon during the First World War before graduating from medical school. During an enforced holiday from his medical practice due to ill health he composed his first novel, Hatter's Castle, with which he enjoyed immense success and which launched his career as a prolific author; he never returned to practicing medicine. ...

"The Sisters Scobie" is one of his short stories. Rufus, a large ginger tom cat, plays a big part in the story about two aging spinsters, sisters who live in their parents home with its horsehair furniture, and Satsuma china. They have not spoken to each other for fifteen years due to an argument about the cat.

The story is part of a series collected as Dr Finlay's Casebook: Omnibus, which was a BBC broadcast series for a number of years, starting in 1962. Google books glosses it (and the author, above,) this way:

"Dr Finlay's Casebook" is a delightful collection of episodic stories of Dr Finlay and his life in the fictional Scottish village of Tannochbrae during the inter-war years and based on A.J. Cronin's own experiences as a doctor. The BBC went on to dramatise these stories on both television and radio during the 1960s and '70s, with the television adaption drawing weekly audiences of 12 million viewers. The characters were revived by ITV from 1993-96 and were adapted again for BBC radio in 2001 and 2002. This omnibus edition of "Doctor Finlay of Tannochbrae and Adventures of a Black Bag" revive Cronin's masterpiece for a contemporary audience - stories which are tragic, funny and wry and.... a celebration of Cronin's tremendous talent.

A. J. Cronin's appeal is analysed here:

Cronin drew his popularity from his ability to construct a realistic narrative, based on his keen observation of episodes within his own experience. His work is credible on account of its detailed description, and his personal experience allowed him to construct a dramatic account from mundane events. His appeal lies in a powerful portrayal of working-class life, coupled with social commentary and criticism. His outspoken approach said to have contributed to the creation of the National Health Service in 1948.
In 1946, for health reasons, Cronin made his home in Switzerland, where he carried on writing until he died in 1981.

Cronin's autobiography is titled Adventures in Two Worlds (1952). 

Here is a list of his books.

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