In this mini masterpiece of witty and learned speculative biography Oliver Soden tells the tale of one of poetry’s most famous cats. Soden uses the life of Jeoffry as the basis of a brilliantly enjoyable book that combines meticulous research and glorious flights of imagination. This beautifully produced little hardback is a perfect book for lovers of cats, poetry, and literary London. – Jack, Daunt Books Marylebone
“An inspired an original tale… Jeoffry is the greatest cat in the English language”
– Hilary Mantel
“Simply unforgettable… One of the most beautiful and haunting books of recent times”
– Alexander McCall Smith
Jeoffry was a real-life tomcat who lived 250 years ago. His fame came much later, when fragments of a poem written by his owner were dusted off in a private library. The seventy-four lines in praise of Jeoffry are now among the most anthologised verse in the English language and have even been set to music.
Biographer Oliver Soden combines meticulous research with brilliant invention to tell the whole story of Jeoffry, a cat who was “the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped”. The narrative moves from the infamous bordellos of Covent Garden to the lunatic asylum in which Jeoffry found himself confined with the brilliant and unstable Christopher Smart. In exchange for companionship during the darkest moments of his illness and incarceration, the poet would reward Jeoffry with the greatest tribute to a feline ever written. At once whimsical and profound, Jeoffry The Poet’s Cat mingles fact with fiction to recount Jeoffry’s life and adventures against the roaring backdrop of eighteenth-century London.
“Mr Soden’s delightful, insinuating book curls around your thoughts and tickles you with its whiskers… Soden jokes that if Jubilate Agno is a magnificat (a song of praise to God), the Jeoffry verses are a magnifi-cat. His own magnifi-cat recreation, bound in cloth-covers and sporting a Gainsborough kitty, would make a fine stocking filler- silk, buckled or gartered” – The Economist