Louis Wain

(1860—1939) artist

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(1860–1939), British illustrator famous for his cats. Wain's anthropomorphized cats first came to wide public notice in the 1886 Christmas issue of the Illustrated London News; the double-page spread of Wain's wide-eyed, cartoonish cats, which took Wain eleven days to create and contained more than 150 cats with varying expressions, was a big success. In addition to the Illustrated London News, his cats appeared in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, the English Illustrated Magazine, the Boy's Own Paper, Little Folks, and many other periodicals. Wain also produced an array of annuals and specialty titles and hundreds of colored cat postcards. Wain's peak period of activity ran from the 1890s until the outbreak of World War I, during which time he was a household name; his mischievous Catland cats, which became increasingly anthropomorphized over the years, also contributed to the popularization of the cat as a household pet. Wain's poor business skills deprived him of the riches his commercial success should have brought, which meant that he was left impoverished when mental illness impaired his ability to create marketable work, and he was eventually institutionalized. Today, however, Wain's cat art is enthusiastically sought by collectors.

From The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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