Georgian london

A cat’s-eye view of 18th-century social history

Jeoffry is, by now, one of the best-known cats in literary history. And unlike the Cheshire Cat, Mr Mistoffelees, Orlando, The Cat That Walked By Himself, Gobbolino or Behemoth in The Master and Margarita, he really existed. Protagonist of the most anthologised section of the mad poet Christopher Smart’s Jubilate Agno, the eccentrically spelled ginger tom now takes a fresh lease of fictionalised life in this jeu d’esprit. Oliver Soden’s ‘biography’ of Jeoffry takes its most obvious bearings from another novelised animal biography, Virginia Woolf’s life of Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s cocker spaniel, Flush. It is, if you’ll forgive me, a pretty feline performance. It’s at once a sly introduction to Christopher