Louis Wain: the Man Who Drew Cats

Louis Wain, as the title of this book succinctly sums him up, was the man who drew cats. Indeed he is probably the most celebrated illustrator of cats of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This biography, first published in 1968 is now reissued with new colour plates and is extensively revised. Louis Wain discusses the artist's much imitated unique style. He specialised in the comic cat - cats drawn in human situations - or humans drawn as cats which amounts to much the same thing. As he himself wrote I take a sketch-book to a restaurant or other public place, and draw the people in their different position as cats, getting as near to their human characteristics as possible. Born in 1860 Wain became a household name for his cat illustrations in the 1890s. His popularity in Britain began to wain in the first decade of the twentieth century so he went to America for two years to try and regain his fortunes, but this was not wholly successful. Thereafter he declined and his behaviour began to change. In 1924 he was declared insane and eventually ended up in the asylum, Bethlem. His last years were spent in a hospital.This is an absorbing story of a very talented, but tormented man.