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 3, 2017

April 3, 1852

Talbot Baines Reed (April 3, 1852 to November 28, 1893),  according to his Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article, "... grew up to become the best kind of Victorian, a man of high principle, enormous industry, strong social conscience, and a robust sense of humour."

Reed was typical of his family.

The family was staunchly Liberal in politics and committedly Christian, being devout Congregationalists. Talbot's grandfather Andrew Reed (1787-1862) was a Congregationalist minister, a hymn writer of distinction, and the founder of orphanages, asylums, and hospitals for incurables....

[After his schooling Reed].... joined the family typefounding business, Sir Charles Reed & Sons Ltd, rising eventually to be managing director. He loved the work and developed such a fascination for the history of typefounding that he devoted ten years to researching what became the standard history of the subject, History of old English letter foundries with notes historical and bibliographical on the rise and progress of English typography (1887). He also completed the unfinished Pentateuch of Printing by William Blades. He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a founder member and first secretary of the Bibliographical Society in 1892. He wrote a regular weekly column for the Leeds Mercury, a newspaper owned by his cousin Edward Baines....

"Reed's enduring legacy lies in his books for boys." One example of Reed's "formulation of the public-school story," is titled The Cock-house at Fellsgarth (1893). This contains an interesting evocation of how thrilling stationery is, to a certain type of person, such as this blogger:

He had bought these account-books out of his own private purse, and spent
an evening in beautifully ruling them in red ink, with one column for the date, one for the name, and three for pounds, shillings, and pence. He had procured two letter-files, labelled respectively "Club" and "House" into which to put his receipts. And he had provided himself with a dozen elastic bands and an equal number of paper-fasteners. 

And a glimpse of school boy life in the 19th century, a topic surely of interest to someone:

They have been assigned the job of preparing an essay in English on "'Your Favorite Animal' with special attention to the spelling and the stops."The plot involves a discussion about their task among the school boys, who are already disgruntled because they are classics scholars, and feel English is beneath them.

"Look here" said Wally," "don't let's all share the same beast. I'm going to have a dog." "Oh, I wanted a dog" said Fisher.... "Can't ; he's bagged. Have a cat ?" "No, I don't like cats — can't I write about a dog too ?" "That would be rot. Haven't you got the whole of Noah's Ark to pick from— lions, tigers, ants, hippopotamuses, cobra de capellos ?"....


Talbot Baines Reed was from another century, recognizably our own.

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