Classic Women Authors and Their Dogs and Cats

margaret mitchell and cat

Just like the rest of us, famed writers loved their furry companions, amply illustrated by this roundup of classic women authors and their dogs and cats.

Dogs and cats bring comfort and joy in good times and bad and can be surprisingly good company whether the writing is flowing or comes with difficulty. When it comes to the literary ladies, it seems like dog lovers outweigh the fans of cats by a comfortable margin, but feline fanciers have their say as well.

At right, we find the rare cat lover in the young and beautiful Margaret Mitchell. It’s not clear whether this is actually her cat, but it’s one of those photos you see everywhere.

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Beatrix Potter

Young Beatrix Potter and dog

Beatrix Potter grew up with quite a menagerie from an early age — rabbits included. It’s not surprising that she grew up to create Peter Rabbit and other iconic animals in her classic books for children. Above, at age 15.

Beatrix potter and her dog

Here’s Beatrix Potter again at a much later stage in life with another beloved dog.

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French author Colette with her cats

French author Colette, best known for Gigi and the Claudine stories, evidently favored cats.

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Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton and her dogs, 1889-1890

Edith Wharton as a young heiress before she became an award-winning novelist, with her duo of dogs, circa 1899.

Edith wharton and pekingese

Here’s Edith Wharton again, much later in life, her penchant for two small dogs in hand intact  — this time Pekingese.

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Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Basket

Gertrude Stein (right) and Alice B. Toklas were devoted to one another and to their dog, the oddly named Basket.

Gertrude Stein and her dog basket

Here’s another one with the formidable Gertrude and Basket.

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Radclyffe Hall

Una Troubridge and Radclyffe Hall

Radclyffe Hall (right) and her lover Una Troubridge, are looking quite tough, while their bulldogs look decidedly gentle.

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Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier and dog - 1936

Daphne du Maurier is pictured with a big bundle of fur in a photo from 1936.

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Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf and Pinka

Virginia Woolf poses with her dog Pinka in her garden at her home, Monk’s House.

Virginia Woolf and Pinka_ Vita Sackville-West & Pippen1933

Not a great photo, but a rare one indeed, here are Virginia Woolf and Pinka, with her fellow author and dear friend Vita Sackville-West and her dog Pippen.

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Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker and her dog

Dorothy Parker didn’t age well — must have been all that booze — but she seems to take great comfort from her adorable dog.

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Margaret Wise Brown

Margaret Wise Brown and her dog, Crispin's Crispian

Here’s Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and more than 100 other children’s books, with her dog, the creatively named Crispin’s Crispian.

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Barbara Pym

Barbara Pym with her cat

Barbara Pym became known for her novels about the small comforts of mid-twentieth-century Englishwomen’s daily lives. And what’s more comforting than a cat (other than a dog)?

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Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor and Corgis

Tasha Tudor’s Corgis received her abiding affection. “How could you resist a Corgi?” she was known to ask. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a more adorable dog. Read more about her love for these adorable dogs.

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Iris Murdoch

Iris Murdoch

Iris Murdoch, the Irish-born British novelist and philosopher, is among the minority of cat-lovers in this collection.

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Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver and her dog

The esteemed American poet who so sensitively observed nature, at home with her own shaggy muse.

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Scene from the Barretts of Wimpole Street, 1934

This isn’t an actual photo of esteemed poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861) and her dog Flush, because none exist. Rather, it’s  Norma Shearer as Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the 1934 film, The Barretts of Wimpole Street. Flush, her beloved spaniel, was a great comfort to Elizabeth after the death of her brother. You can read her poetic tribute, “To Flush, My Dog” right here on this site.

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Caresse Crosby

Caresse Crosby and her whippet

Caresse Crosby was known as a patron to the Lost Generation and other expatriate writers in Paris of the late 1920s.  She was also the inventor of the modern bra. Here she is with her whippet, charmingly named Clytoris.

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Beverly Cleary, around 1955

Here’s prolific children’s book author Beverly Cleary and her feline companion, around 1955.

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Shaggy muses by Maureen Adams

 Shaggy Muses by Maureen Adams: A Review

Colette and her cat

10 Classic Women Authors and Their Cats

10 Responses to “Classic Women Authors and Their Dogs and Cats”

    • What a great idea, Yolanda, thanks! I added EBB and Flush at the end. I should have thought of it, especially since I recently published a post about her poem, “To Flush, My Dog.”

  1. Wonderful photos. I have always had dogs and cats. Now I am down to fourteen cats so I can really relate.. I love to see pictures of authors with their pets. Thanks so much for posting.

  2. Thank you. I think all those highly creative women were animal lovers, e.g Beatrix Potter.
    During these globally most difficult times, instead of twiddling thumbs I’m reading Colette, Gigi and racking my brains as to writing a number one best seller. If it were that easy we’d all be best sellers.

    • Yes, Elizabeth, there are a lot of animal lovers among the Literary Ladies. Reading the classics is a great idea in these troubled times. I’m reading a lot by/about Zora Neale Hurston these days. And good luck with your own writing … fewer distractions and solitude are good for us writers.

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