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10 Famous Authors and Their Feline Muses

Cats and creativity!

Have you ever been to Strand Bookstore in New York City? If you have, then you must have noticed that there are so many cattish things around you: cat pins, cat books, cat stickers, cat pens, cat mugs, cat____ (you can fill in anything you can imagine). Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit, but you cannot deny that images of cats are always linked with artists, writers, and thinkers. So, thanks to Alison Nastasi's book Writers and Their Cats, now we may know more about this mysterious association!

 

 

After publishing Artists and Their Cats in 2015, Nastasi never gives up researching about the relationship between people who create and cats that linger around them. According to her promo post, this book contains 45 famous authors who shared their homes and hearts with their beloved furry feline friends, including Mark Twain, Alice Walker, Haruki Murakami, and Ursula K. Le Guin. The following is her introduction of 10 authors and their cats:

 

 

1. Haruki Murakami

 

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Image Via publishersweekly

 

Haruki Murakami is a jazz aficionado and owns a floor-to-ceiling vinyl collection that would make any music lover jealous. In the 1970s, Murakami first shared his obsession for music by opening the Tokyo jazz club Peter Cat, named after one of his pets. The Norwegian Wood author wrote his first two novels there, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973. Cats are featured in the early books as they always are in Murakami's stories—elliptical symbols that slink in and out of his character's lives.

 

 

2. Jirō Osaragi

 

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Image via publishersweekly

 

The Osaragi Jirō Memorial Museum in Yokohama, Japan is dedicated to the author Jirō Osaragi and features numerous cat ornaments as an integral part of its feline-themed decor. Osaragi wrote several novels connected to Yokohama, including Gento (Magic Lantern) and lived at the Hotel New Grand for over 10 years (in room 318). It's often said that the Shōwa-period author cared for over 500 cats throughout his lifetime at his home in Kamakura, Japan—which is sometimes open to the public. Visitors can lounge on Osaragi's terrace and sip tea while picturing the hundreds of semi-feral cats that once frolicked in the gardens.

 

 

3. Judy Blume

 

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Image via publishersweekly

 

The Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret author adored a calico cat she kept that lived to old age—although the author's most famous cat-centric portrait is a photograph of Blume holding her neighbor's cat. The writer currently dotes on the many grand-cats in her family.

 

 

4. Stephen King

 

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Image via publishersweekly

 

 

The feline protagonists in Stephen King's novels lead haunted lives. In Pet Sematary, King tells a story of loss inspired by his family's own tragic experience with their pet cat Smucky who was hit by a car. King's cat-filled publicity photo for the movie Cat's Eye, based on several of the author's short stories, proves that the author's fascination with the macabre didn't stop him from being a cat magnet.

 

 

5. Alice Walker

 

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Image via publishersweekly

 

"I have always been an outsider," Alice Walker stated in an author Q&A for her book The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart. "The standard rules and acceptable forms of behavior have never applied to me. In that sense, I was raised wild. And why wouldn’t I be? Why would I attempt to 'conform' to a society that doesn’t value my existence, that has done everything to wipe me out? I always knew that I’d have to construct an alternative reality." The novelist took the same approach when it came to her cats, seeming to favor the outsiders and misfits—like a snaggletoothed stray she took in or the shelter cat Frida, a sweet calico with a rough past that she named after artist Frida Kahlo.

 

 

6. Elizabeth Bishop

 

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Image via publishersweekly

 

"[Elizabeth] Bishop's poetics is one distinguished by tranquil observation, craft-like accuracy, care for the small things of the world, a miniaturist's discretion and attention," wrote critic Ernest Hilbert about the American poet. This quiet precision was displayed by the cats Bishop kept and wrote about. One of her pets had a penchant for dissecting its prey like a world-class surgeon.

 

 

7. Helen Gurley Brown

 

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Image via publishersweekly

 

 

In the 1970s, Cosmopolitan magazine's mascot was a pink cartoon pussycat nicknamed Lovey. The sleek feline wore a large bow around its neck and boasted fluttering eyelashes. Lovey embodied the sassy, independent life Cosmo painted for its readers—the kind longtime editor Helen Gurley Brown lived to the fullest with her two chocolate-point Siamese cats by her side.

 

 

8. Jorge Luis Borges

 

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Image via publishersweekly

 

Borges took a literary approach to naming one of his favorite felines, a large white cat he called Beppo. The kittenly companion was named after a character in a Lord Byron poem. The Argentine writer was also fond of tigers—evidenced by his short story "Blue Tigers," about a professor who seeks out an elusive cobalt-colored beast.

 

 

9. Doris Lessing

 

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Image via publishersweekly

 

British Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing wrote of her affection for cats many times, but she felt a particular affinity for her pet El Magnifico. "He was such a clever cat," she remarked to the Wall Street Journal in 2008. "We used to have sessions when we tried to be on each other’s level. He knew we were trying. When push came to shove, though, the communication was pretty limited."

 

 

10. Sylvia Plath

 

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Image via publishersweekly

 

Plath lovers are unanimously charmed by a drawing The Bell Jar novelist left behind of a "curious French cat," peeking out from behind a wall. She also practically pioneered the "crazy cat lady" trope with the poem, "Ella Mason and Her Eleven Cats."

 

 

Oh yeah, this is definitely interesting to read. Bookstr folks, are you also cattish writers? 

 

Well, I definitely am.

 

 

Suggested reading:

8 Authors Who Are Famously Cat Crazy

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Publishersweekly