Imperial Names for ‘Practical Cats’: Establishing a Distinctly British Pride in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
Copyright (c) 2013 American Name Society 2013
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
T. S. Eliot provides three categories — the familial, the particular, and the secretive — to delineate the naming of cats in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats; however, the poet’s categories fail to explain completely his onomastic decisions. Instead, Eliot’s naming process reflects the Anglophile’s acquired British tastes. London, a city of Anglican churches and secular theatres, is home to Eliot’s fictional cats and an influence upon many of his name choices. Literary sources, in particular British Nonsense poets, provide additional inspiration for the 54 cat names mentioned in Eliot’s volume.
- Burton Raffel. 1972. T. S. Eliot. New York: Frederick Ungar.
- Campbell Jeanne, Reesman John. 1984. ‘Creatures of ‘Charm’: A New T. S. Eliot Poem.’ The Kenyon Review 6(3): 25–33.
- Dale Roger. 2008. Cats in Books. London: The British Library.
- Dinwiddy Hugh. 1958. ‘Reading T. S. Eliot with Schoolboys.’ T. S. Eliot: A Symposium for his Seventieth Birthday. Ed. , Braybrooke Neville, ed. New York: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 92–97.
- Eliot TS. (1939) 1980. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. T. S. Eliot: The Complete Poems and Plays 1909–1950. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 147–171.
- Field Eugene. (1904) 1925. ‘The Duel.’ Collected Poems of Eugene Field. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 128–129.
- Gilbert WS. 1994. The Savoy Operas. Ware, England: Wordsworth Editions Ltd.
- Gordon Lyndall. 1998. T. S. Eliot: An Imperfect Life. New York: Norton.
- Kelly Ian. 2005. Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Dandy. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
- Knight WFJackson. 1958. ‘T. S. Eliot as a Classical Scholar.’ T. S. Eliot: A Symposium for his Seventieth Birthday. Ed. , Braybrooke Neville, ed. New York: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 119–128.
- Lambert AnneH. 1990. ‘Eliot’s Naming of Cats.’ Names 38(1–2): 39–42.
- Miller James. 2005. T. S. Eliot: The Making of an American Poet, 1888–1922. University Park: Penn State University Press.
- Sanna Ellyn. 2003. ‘Biography of T. S. Eliot.’ Bloom’s Biocritiques: T. S. Eliot. Ed. , Bloom Harold, ed. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 3–44.
- Schwartz Belmore. 1939. ‘Mr Eliot and Old Possum.’ Nation 149(27): 737–738.
- Sewell Elizabeth. 1958. ‘Lewis Carroll and T. S. Eliot as Nonsense Poets.’ T. S. Eliot: A Symposium for his Seventieth Birthday. Ed. , Braybrooke Neville, ed. New York: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 49–56.
- Weiskel PortiaWilliams. 2003. ‘On the Writings of T. S. Eliot.’ Bloom’s Biocritiques: T. S. Eliot. Ed. , Bloom Harold, ed. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 45–82.
- Wilson Edwin, Goldfarb Alvin. 2004. Living Theatre: History of the Theatre. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.