The man who loved cats becomes a movie
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is an upcoming biographical film. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Louis Wain and Claire Foy as Emily Richardson-Wain, in a movie that revolves around the love of his life and the unexpected invasion of a little cat in their lives. The man who loved cats
At the age of 23, Louis married Emily Richardson and moved with her to Hamstead. Emily soon began to suffer from breast cancer and died 3 years later. Prior to Emily’s death, Wain discovered the subject that would define his career. During her illness, Emily was comforted by their pet cat Peter, a stray black and white kitten who had been rescued after he was heard meowing in the rain one night.
Peter made Emily feel a lot better and Louis began to draw extensive sketches of him, which Emily strongly encouraged him to have published. However, she died before this happened, but he continued to make cat sketches. Since then, Peter can be recognized in many of Wain’s early published works. The man who loved cats
Wain’s first drawing of anthropomorphized cats was published in the Christmas issue of the Illustrated London News, entitled “A Kittens’ Christmas Party”, in 1886. The illustration depicted 150 cats, many of which resembled Peter, engaged in activities such as sending invitations, holding a ball, playing games, and making speeches. Such anthropomorphic portrayals of animals were popular in Victorian England and were often found in prints, on greeting cards and in satirical illustrations such as the work of John Tenniel.
Wain produced several hundred drawings a year. He illustrated about one hundred children’s books and in 1898 and 1911 he was chairman of the National Cat Club.
Despite his popularity, Wain suffered financial difficulty. Wain was naive and easily exploited, ill-equipped for bargaining in the world of publishing. He often sold his drawings outright, retaining no rights over their reproduction.
In 1924, when his sisters could no longer cope with his violent behavior, Wain was committed to Springfield Mental Hospital. Later he was transferred to the Bethlem Royal Hospital and again in 1930 to Napsbury Hospital, where he spent his final 15 years there in peace. His work from this period is marked by bright colors, flowers, and intricate and abstract patterns, though his primary subject of cats remained the same.
Wain fought many battles with schizophrenia and his life ended in an asylum. In one of his articles, which will be the preface to a new biography, the protagonist of the film asks us to show compassion and love for anyone who happens to be different.
The film was announced in July 2019 and is scheduled to hold its premiere at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2021.
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