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There’s Something about a Furry (or Feathered) Creature

September 21, 2015 - Posted to How to: Essay writing tips

Content writer s furry friend

Authors and their Pets

Authors spend a lot of time alone with themselves, their ideas, and their words. They really don’t want others around during these times and usually have a space in their homes that are “closed” to friends and relatives during times of creative production. This banishment never seems to apply to pets, however, and lots of authors claim a spiritual bond with their pets that actually soothes them and allows their creativity to be fueled. Whatever the reason, many famous authors have special attachments to their pets, just as many of us do.

Edgar Allen Poe

No, Poe did not have a pet raven. He did, however, have a cat – a black cat, of course. While there are no photographs of Poe and his cat, there is an artist’s rendering of a common situation in the Poe household. Evidently, there was such a bond between Poe and Cattarina (the cat) that she often sat on his shoulder as he wrote. Poe once said, “I wish I could write as mysteriously as a cat.”

Jack Kerouac

Kerouac, considered the voice of the “Beat Generation” of the 1950’s, adopted the culture of drugs, sex and jazz, after a leg injury prevented him from playing football at Columbia University, causing him to drop out of college. At one point, he and a friend took several cross country trips, and those became the stuff of which his most famous book On the Road was written. His cat, named Tyke, was the only stable thing in his life, through three marriages and divorces and an addiction he could not control. He captioned this picture, “Holding up my purring cat to the moon, I sighed.” When Tyke died, Kerouac went into a horrible depression and a year-long downward spiral of drugs and alcohol. He died at the age of 47.

Kurt Vonnegut

Even though his books often dealt with some pretty “heavy” subject matter, the relationship Vonnegut had with his dog, Pumpkin, was anything but heavy or dark. He absolutely adored hit dog and, at one time said, “I cannot distinguish the love I have for people from the love I have for dogs.”

John Steinbeck

Steinbeck and his dog, Charley, a standard poodle, were inseparable. In fact, this dog traveled across country with Steinbeck and became a part of the title of the book on this sojourn, Travels with Charley. Steinbeck once said, "I need a dog pretty badly. I dreamed of dogs last night. They sat in a circle and looked at me and I wanted all of them."

Ernest Hemingway

His cats were allowed in his “office.”  Hemingway was given his first cat by a ship captain. It was a 6-toed female, and the rest is history. He acquired a male cat, and the reproduction began.  Hemingway said of cats, “A cat has absolute emotional honesty; human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” Hemingway’s home in Florida is now a museum, and there are 55 cats on the property which he provided for in his will. They are all descendant of the first 6-toed female.

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was an early 20th century British author whose books, To the Lighthouse and Orlando, brought her great fame. Unfortunately, she suffered from bi-polar depression and her life was often in great upheaval. What she claimed always gave her peace were her pets, as they understood and never condemned. Here she is with her dog, Pink.

Gertrude Stein

Meet Basket, one of many poodles that Stein owned in her lifetime. An American author who lived most of her adult life in Paris, in order to avoid the condemnation of her lesbian lifestyle, was a prolific author, most famous for her novels, Three Lives, The Making of America, Things as They Are and Tender Buttons. She doted on her dogs so much that she insisted Basket be bathed every day in sulfur water. She was said, “I am I because my little dog knows me.”

Charles Dickens

Dickens loved animals, and this is his favorite dog, Turk. He described Turk as “a noble animal, full of affection and intelligence. Dickens also had a cat named Bob. It is said that when Bob died, Dickens had one of his paws stuffed to use as a letter opener. Dickens had many dogs in his novels and occasionally they played some important roles.

Stephen King

Meet Molly, King’s Corgi, whom he calls “A Thing of Evil” (jokingly of course). King has put orgi’s in many of his books. He once stated that the biggest difference between people is not gender, but whether they like cats or dogs. Dickens must have had a split personality.

Tennessee Williams

Somehow it is fitting that Williams would have a cat, because one of this playwright’s most famous works was “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” He named this cat Sabbath. In addition to the cat, however, he also had a bulldog he adored. He, too, would disagree with King – people really can love both.

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