PERSONAL: Female. Education: Somerville College, Oxford, graduated 1975.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Worked as a translator and editor in Paris, France.
MEMBER: International Napoleonic Society (fellow).
Reigning Cats and Dogs: A History of Pets at Court since the Renaissance, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Other works include Napoleon against the World and The Flight of the Eagle.
SIDELIGHTS: Katharine MacDonogh's Reigning Cats and Dogs: A History of Pets at Court since the Renaissance is filled with facts and anecdotes about the pets kept by royals and aristocrats in the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and Asia. She notes that dogs were banned from the palaces of Ming emperors, who loved their cats, but that canines were favored by artists, like Van Dyck, because they were easier to control for a sitting.
MacDonogh writes of dogs who changed history and suggests that Henry VIII might have been denied a divorce if his representative's greyhound had not knocked over the stool on which the ailing Pope Clement VII's gouty foot was resting. She writes of the affection of lonely queens for their little dogs and the devotion of kings who could trust no one but their canine companions. She also notes that as a child, King George V was forced to eat on the floor with the dogs because his table manners were so poor, and that he removed his clothes, claiming that if the dogs did not have to dress for dinner, neither did he. Other dogs were used to taste their masters' food to ensure that it was safe to eat. Cats caught mice, especially in monasteries, where there tended to be great numbers, and some dogs and cats were merely pets.
Manchester Guardian reviewer Anne Solway wrote that "probably your average royal pet could not believe its luck. Throughout most of the era covered, animals were treated with hideous cruelty, for which the British were especially notorious: at Elizabeth I's coronation, a bonfire was topped by a Pope-shaped wicker figure filled with live cats." Solway also felt that royal pets played "the role of the tension-relieving Fool, who can get away with things no one else dares to do without setting an Awful Precedent." A Publishers Weekly critic called Reigning Cats and Dogs "a work to be browsed for pleasure or consulted for reference." Booklist contributor Margaret Flanagan concluded her review by saying, "Chock-full of irresistibly eccentric tidbits, this unique history will appeal to both court watchers and pet lovers."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 1999, Margaret Flanagan, review of Reigning Cats and Dogs: A History of Pets at Court since the Renaissance, p. 597.
Guardian (Manchester, England), September 18, 1999, Anne Solway, review of Reigning Cats and Dogs, p. 8.
New York Times Book Review, February 27, 2000, Alida Becker, "All the King's Pets," review of Reigning Cats and Dogs, p. 35.
Publishers Weekly, October 18, 1999, review of Reigning Cats and Dogs, p. 65.
Times Literary Supplement, October 22, 1999, E. S. Turner, "Corgi and Bess," review of Reigning Cats and Dogs, p. 13.