Louis Wain

1860 - 1939

Louis Wain (1860 - 1939) was born in London and educated by the Christian Brothers. He studied for a musical career until 1879 when he went to the West London School of Art and was Assistant Master there from 1881-82.

He joined the staff of The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and soon moved to The Illustrated London News. From 1883 he began to draw cats in a manner never previously seen. These beautifully handled works illustrated cats expressing human emotions in humorous situations and these proved hugely popular. He occasionally created dog artworks but only in the early days before he became recognised. His fame spread to the United States and, after visiting New York, worked on the New York American between 1907 and 1910.

A founding member of the National Cat Club, he was also Chairman in 1898 and 1911. With the changes that the First World War brought, and having never secured the copyright of his original artworks, his earnings dwindled. He had a nervous breakdown and was discovered in a state run asylum in 1925; through a campaign in Animals magazine, his lot was improved and he moved to a private facility where he was cared for through charitable donations from the public.


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