Welcome ROCCO’s guest poster…Edith Maxwell!
Domestic Cats in 1888
I’m delighted to be here visiting with Rocco again. I got to wondering about cats as domestic pets in the late 1800s, when my Quaker Midwife Mysteries are set. I found one article that said they became popular because Queen Victoria loved animals. She owned two Blue Persian cats she was fond of, and legislated against vivisection, experiments performed on live animals. The first Cat Show was held in the Crystal Palace in London in 1871. For the first time cats were given particular standards and classes, which are still used today.
Mark Twain, aka Samuel Clemens, loved cats on this side of the pond. He would walk around with a cat named Lazy draped around his neck, and was photographed with a number of his favorite felines. I found this quote from him: “I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.” The pictures of Clemens with his cats were published in the Pictorial Review, according to a web post I found.
A book called Pets in America: A History talks about the other names Clemens gave his cats, including Famine, Buffalo Bill, and Sour Mash. This picture shows him with a kitten on his pool table. I’ve visited that room in his Hartford, Connecticut house – he would spread his papers out on the pool table as he worked. Ralph Waldo Emeron’s wife was also a cat lover, apparently, as was Charles Dickens.
Of course farms have always had barn cats to keep mice and rat populations under control. In my second Quaker Midwife Mystery, Called to Justice (2017), midwife Rose Carroll and her niece Faith adopt a kitten after they find mice in their kitchen. They name her Christabel after a Coleridge poem – which is the name of our girl cat, who now gets her own starring role in one of my series!
Readers: What historic cat-loving personage do you know of? Who are your favorite contemporary kitties?
In Delivering the Truth, Quaker midwife Rose Carroll becomes a suspect when a difficult carriage factory manager is killed after the factory itself is hit by an arsonist. Struggling with being less than a perfect Friend, Rose delivers the baby of the factory owner’s mistress even while the owner’s wife is also seven months pregnant. After another murder, Rose calls on her strengths as a counselor and problem solver to help bring the killers to justice before they destroy the town’s carriage industry and the people who run it.
Agatha-nominated and Amazon best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and the Local Foods Mysteries, the Country Store Mysteries (as Maddie Day), and the Lauren Rousseau Mysteries (as Tace Baker), as well as award-winning short crime fiction. Her story, “A Questionable Death,” which features the same 1888 setting and characters as Delivering the Truth, is nominated for a 2016 Agatha Award for Best Short Story.
Edith is Vice-President of Sisters in Crime New England and Clerk of Amesbury Friends Meeting. She lives north of Boston with her beau and three cats – Christabel, Preston, and Birdy - and blogs with the other Wicked Cozy Authors. You can find her on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, and at her web site, edithmaxwell.com.