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.

April 23, 2017

April 23

We are indebted to William Bell Scott (1811 – 1890) for noting the origin, of the phrase "A cat may look at a king." The story he tells is preserved in Autobiographical Notes of the Life of William Bell Scott: and Notices of His Artistic and Poetic Circle of Friends, 1830 to 1882, (1892) which was edited by William Minto.

The story revolves around Jerome Rosch. Rosch, whose name is spelled several ways, and whose dates seem quite forgotten, worked with Albrecht Durer. Bell is certain that Durer engraved the wood blocks for none of his prints, that Rosch did all the engraving. The Emperor (Maxmillian I, 1459 – 1519) patronized artists and scholars and visited Durer's studio, to praise and prod. The Holy Roman Emperor also visited Rosch's studio.

In Scott's account:

These visits of the Kaiser to the artist are distinguished by another anecdote. Rosch was fond of cats, and these cats, sitting on all the seats or tables, did not put themselves about when the Emperor called; hence, it is said, arose the adage, "A cat may look at a king."

This is our contribution to World Book and Copyright Day. This UNESCO holiday, observed now for 22 years, is widely noted except for the UK. The Brits call a day in early March World Book Day. Perhaps because they regard April 23 as a national holiday.

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