Cats in the 19th Century (Part 15-Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Cat Calvin)

Harriet Beecher Stowe's cat CalvinThe American author Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), famous for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, had a Maltese cat named after her husband Calvin.  When Stowe had to move, she gave the large cat to Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900), who grew to love Calvin and even wrote an entire chapter devoted to the life of the cherished animal, Calvin (A Study of Character) from my Summer in a Garden in 1870.


Here’s a short excerpt from Warner’s Calvin a Study in Cat Character.  You can find the complete essay at the link above. 

“After some years, when Mrs. Stowe made her winter home in Florida, Calvin came to live with us. From the first moment, he fell into the ways of the house and assumed a recognized position in the family,—I say recognized, because after he became known he was always inquired for by visitors, and in the letters to the other members of the family he always received a message. Although the least obtrusive of beings, his individuality always made itself felt. 

His personal appearance had much to do with this, for he was of royal mould, and had an air of high Harriet Beecher Stowe's cat Calvinbreeding. He was large, but he had nothing of the fat grossness of the celebrated Angora family; though powerful, he was exquisitely proportioned, and as graceful in every movement as a young leopard. When he stood up to open a door—he opened all the doors with old-fashioned latches—he was portentously tall, and when stretched on the rug before the fire he seemed too long for this world—as indeed he was. His coat was the finest and softest I have ever seen, a shade of quiet Maltese; and from his throat downward, underneath, to the white tips of his feet, he wore the whitest and most delicate ermine; and no person was ever more fastidiously neat. In his finely formed head you saw something of his aristocratic character; the ears were small and cleanly cut, there was a tinge of pink in the nostrils, his face was handsome, and the expression of his countenance exceedingly intelligent—I should call it even a sweet expression if the term were not inconsistent with his look of alertness and sagacity.” 


Want to know more about the cat in literature, art and history? Then Revered and Reviled is the book for  you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 


Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats


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