London: Sands & Company, 1901. Item #03029
"It Was A Very Popular Volume, And Made A Lasting Impression On Children Who Owned It"
WAIN, Louis. Cats. Pictured by Louis Wain and Versed by "Grimalkin". London: Sands & Company, .
First edition. Large quarto (11 5/16 x 8 3/16 inches; 288 x 218 mm.).  pp. Three-color pictorial title-page and twenty-one full page black and white drawings.
Publishers dark blue cloth over boards, front cover pictorially stamped in red, black, brown and white. A fine copy.
Contents: Shopping; The Naughty Fishes; Tabby and Tommy at Work; Tommy and Tabby at Play; Peter at the Seaside; Peter Bathing; Peter's Pussie's Party; Peter at the Barber's The Disobedient Kitten; Just out of my Bath; Indegestion; Waiting for a Bite; A Bite at Last; The Musician; Who threw that Boot?; A Kitten Brave and Bold; A Wonderful Story; The Club Match; Well Stopped, Sir!, The Lodging-House Cat and A Christmas Toast.
This book contains several illustrations of a cat called Peter. "It is not, I think, too far-fetched to speculate that Louis Wain's having met Peter changed the course of domestic history. Certainly, the attitude of the general public towards cats, and their feeling (or otherwise) for cats was greatly affected by Louis Wain's work. Where did Peter come from? In later years Louis' sisters claimed they had given him to Louis and Emily as a wedding present. This seems unlikely, as relations were exceedingly strained at the time, unless the present was intended as a deliberate slight, in which case the result was more than ironic. On another occasion, Claire Wain said that the two youngest sisters, Felicie and herself, had given Louis 'a beautiful black and white kitten, which was very frolicsome, as a present on his twentieth birthday, and that from that time he had started drawing cats, sitting on the floor and sketching hour after hour… Wherever Peter came from, he was certainly born in 1883, and may therefore have been a belated wedding present. It was in that year that Louis first drew cats, and Emily's illness no doubt contributed to his later concentration on what eventually became an obsession…"
A "Grimalkin" is an old, or evil looking female cat. The term stems from "grey" (the color) plus "malkin", an archaic term for a cat, derived from a hypocoristic form of the female name Maud. Scottish legend makes reference to the grimalkin as a faery cat that dwells in the highlands.
"In a lighter vein, also in 1901, and more important to Wain's popular reputation, Sands & Co published Cats, illustrated by Wain and with verses by 'Grimalkin' ('pseud', as the British Museum catalogue coyly has it). Cats comprised 21 poems, each faced by a full-page line drawing. It was a very popular volume, and made a lasting impression on children who owned it." Rodney Dale, Louis Wain: The Man Who Drew Cats, page, 49.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Louis Wain (1860-1939), the Edwardian cat artist who went mad, became a household name as an illustrator of cats, whom he depicted in all sorts of activities, from skating and playing cricket to driving motor cars, attending dances, and playing musical instruments. “He invented a cat style, a cat society, a whole cat world. English cats that do not look like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves” (H.G. Wells).
“From 1883, Wain began to draw cats as they had never been drawn before, cats in humorous guises, in human situations, but always beautifully handled…although he was sometimes forced to draw dogs before he became well-known!” (Houfe, The Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 1800-1914).