his easy-going new show brings familiar (and some less familiar) felines together to celebrate the ways in which cats have captured our cultural imagination for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Through an array of poetry, artwork, fables and fairytales from around the world, it cleverly explores the various literary guises that cats have appeared under throughout the centuries: from comical cats to master criminals, the lovable to the mysterious and magical.
And it’s an absorbing stroll: books, manuscripts and artwork from the British Library’s own collections are displayed together for the first time alongside a number of original illustrations, with loans from Newcastle’s excellent Seven Stories, Judith Kerr (creator of Mog), Posy Simmonds, Axel Scheffler, Quentin Blake and the T. S. Eliot Foundation.
Plus there’s Lewis Carroll’s own copy of the exceptionally rare third edition of Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice found there (1893), in which the author notes his frustration with the printing, including a comment on an illustration of Alice’s kitten.
The exhibition’s run coincides with the 80th anniversary year of the original publication of Eliot’s classic poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.
Staged in the British Library’s Entrance Hall – head up the escalators and it’s right there – Cats on the Page contains swathes of family-friendly elements such as a family trail, sound recordings and a children’s reading corner. Pawfect, indeed, for the winter holidays.
Main image: Mog’s Christmas, 1976, by Judith Kerr