As long as people have had pets, they have been a part of our lives. This is especially true for authors, who have gained endless creativity and companionship from their pets. Here are some unique pets had by famous authors of the past.
It is well known that Ernest Hemingway loved cats. This love affair began with one six-toed kitten named Snow White which he received as a gift from a sea captain. More cats followed – many with six-toes. Hemingway may have passed, but the descendants of Snow White live on at his house-turned-museum in Florida.
Bambino the cat.
Mark Twain was especially fond of the cat that belonged to his daughter Clara, especially during her extended illness. Writing in My Father, Mark Twain, Clara remembers: “Father wrote that Bambino was homesick for me and refused all meat and milk, but contradicted his statement a couple of days later saying: “It has been discovered that the reason your cat declines milk and meat and lets on to live by miraculous intervention is, that he catches mice privately.”
One day, however, Bambino disappeared, and Twain took out an ad in the New York American, offering $5 for Bambino’s return. The author had many other cats in his lifetime as well.
The effervescent Lord Byron loved his pets, so much so he wanted to bring his dog with him to college. Upon arrival he was informed that Trinity College did not allow dogs. So, he got an idea – he brought a bear instead. “I have got a new friend, the finest in the world, a tame bear. When I brought him here, they asked me what to do with him, and my reply was, ‘he should sit for a fellowship,’” the poet wrote his friend about his new pet.
Grip the raven.
Charles Dickens loved animals. He kept many pets, but none more notable than his ravens, each with the name Grip. The first grip learned how to mimic speech, as though he were a parrot. Dickens had him stuffed when he died. A young Edgar Allan Poe met Dickens’ beloved strangely named ravens, and many say they were the inspiration for his tale “The Raven.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Speaking of author pets with unique names – did you know Elizabeth Barrett Browning had a dog named Flush? Flush was a cocker spaniel gifted to the poet by Mary Russell Mitford, a puppy of her dog also named Flush. The dog is memorialized in a sweet poem by Browning titled ‘To Flush, My Dog’.
E.B. White and Minnie the dog.
Famed children’s author E.B. White loved his dog Minnie. When White was accused of not paying his dog tax by the New York ASPCA in 1951, he took special offense to it. He wrote a strongly worded letter to the organization outlining how he was actually a perfect dog dad – in the witty charm one would expect of the mind behind Winnie the Pooh.