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The Pug Who Bit Napoleon (ePub)

Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Animals Military > Pre-WWI > Napoleonic P&S History > By Century > 18th Century P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > Social History

By Mimi Matthews
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 27.1 MB (.epub)
Pages: 180
Illustrations: 100 colour
ISBN: 9781526705020
Published: 11th December 2017


£4.99 Print price £14.99

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  • Check out this interview with Mimi Matthews in USA Today


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From elaborate Victorian cat funerals to a Regency era pony who took a ride in a hot air balloon, Mimi Matthews shares some of the quirkiest—and most poignant—animal tales of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Meet Fortune, the Pug who bit Napoleon on his wedding night, and Looty, the Pekingese sleeve dog who was presented to Queen Victoria after the 1860 sacking of the Summer Palace in Peking. The four-legged friends of Lord Byron, Emily Brontë, and Prince Albert also make an appearance, as do the treasured pets of Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, and Charles Dickens.

Less famous, but no less fascinating, are the animals that were the subject of historical lawsuits, scandals, and public curiosity. There’s Tuppy, the purloined pet donkey; Biddy, the regimental chicken; and Barnaby and Burgho, the bloodhounds hired to hunt Jack the Ripper. Wild animals also get a mention in tales that encompass everything from field mice and foxes to alligators and sharks lurking in the Thames.

Using research from eighteenth and nineteenth century books, letters, and newspapers, Mimi Matthews brings each animal’s unique history to vivid life. The details are sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, but the stories are never anything less than fascinating reading for animal lovers of all ages.

This was such a fun read, as well as informative and at times very touching. Loving our pets isn't new, and through original sources this book shares a wonderful collection of amusing, entertaining, heart warming and delightful stories of people and their pets, some famous some completely ordinary.

NetGalley, Rebekka Steg

★★★★ Adorable animal stories, perfect for any animal lover.

Read the review online here.

GoodReads, Kristin Davison

This is a fun, quick read, and also very interesting.

NetGalley, reviewed by Camille Brown

Author Q&A as featured in

All About History, April 2018

rom elaborate Victorian cat funerals to a Regency-era pony who took a ride in a hot air balloon, Matthews shares some of the quirkiest and most poignant animal tales of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And who knew that a dog disrupted Napoleon’s wedding night! Based on eighteenth and nineteenth century books, letters, journals, and newspapers, these animal tales, sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, provide a fascinating read for animal lovers of all ages. Enhanced with colour illustrations, this is delightful book to dip into!

Julian Stockwin - Action-adventure historical fiction

Animals rarely make it into most standard history tomes so this collection is a really lovely and unique book.

A perfect addition to your bookshelf if you love history and animals.

Read the complete review here.

The Lazy Historian, Jill Hamilton

As featured in

Antiques Diary, March-April 2018

The Pug Who Bit Napoleon is a fine collection of animal stories from the 18th and 19th centuries and they make very entertaining reading. But the outstanding thing about this book is the wealth of excellent colour illustrations, from Mr Agasse’ study of a red fox or Orlando Hodgson’s drawing of the maiden lady with her extraordinary collection of pets - something which was far from rare, cats being a particular favourite (I recall that in old age Florence Maybrick surrounded herself with cats.) After reading some heavy titles of late, it was a delight to settle down one chilly afternoon in a warm room and relax with this exceedingly well-written collection of animal tales.

Ripperologist, December 2017 – January 2018 – reviewed by Paul Begg

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Amazing book! As always with Ms Matthews you are engrossed, it's educational and fun and for those that love their history and the history of animals then this is the book to read. To me it's flawless!!

NetGalley, reviewed by Frankie Reviews

Matthews looks at history’s pet lovers, some of whom were powerful and creative people. For example,
Napoleon’s Josephine had an ill-tempered pug who bit the emperor, while Alexander Pope’s great dane
once saved his life. Pope memorialized that dog in poetry; Lord Byron did the same for his beloved dog.
One literary critic once surmised that Emily Brontë could not have written Wuthering Heights and that her
bulldog must have channeled the novel. Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, doted on their
respective dogs, and bloodhounds were trained to hunt Jack the Ripper. Cats also receive attention here,
though in a more generic way; famous people seem not to leave as much documentary evidence about their
felines. Many other creatures find their ways into these pages. A favorite donkey remembered his master
years after the donkey was stolen. Sharks and alligators found their ways into the Thames River from time
to time. Reproductions of animal paintings show how various dog breeds have evolved over time. Wellresearched
and heavily illustrated.

American Library Association

The stories themselves were generally interesting, more so when the owner was somebody well-known.

NetGalley, reviewed by Nathan Peysakhovich

There are many other heartwarming or quirky stories in this wide-ranging book, and every reader is sure to find some surprises here. They will also find the author's own sympathetic and sometimes humorous reflections — and, once they have finished the last chapter, endnotes and a bibliography to help them follow up their particular interests. The Pug Who Bit Napoleon is due to be published at the end of November this year (2017). But beware: those who buy it as a Christmas gift may feel quite unable to part with it!

Read the complete review here.

The Victorian Web

I enjoyed this book a lot and found the author's informal style both accessible and fun to read.

NetGalley, reviewed by Annie Buchanan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Presents history in a lighthearted and interesting way. The author, Mimi Matthews, takes the reader on a historical tour of famous people who owned dogs, cats, birds and other assorted pets.


NetGalley, reviewed by Mary Ash

The book is a quick, fun read. I'd recommend this enjoyable book to fans of animal stories.

NetGalley, reviewed by Deborah White

Author interview as featured in

USA Today

A rather unique look at an area of history I like to read about.

NetGalley, reviewed by Sara Garry

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is so wonderful and a must-read for any pet and history lovers! Honestly this book had me at first glance - my favorite historical figure AND my favorite dog breed, how could this possibly go wrong? And each of the entries and profiles was more charming than the last. The Homeric dedication of Lord Byron to his dearly departed Boatswain and the rumors of Emily Brontë's bulldog being her witch familiar & being the first in line in her funeral procession were my two favorite anecdotes, but truly the entire work is a gift.

NetGalley, reviewed by Mariah Brown

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One of the most delightful historical books I've read in awhile. As an animal lover and a history buff, this book was quite fun to read. I read it in one sitting and I feel that many will do that. The pace is perfect and it's just really full of fascinating facts.

NetGalley, reviewed by Kellie Haulotte

About Mimi Matthews

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats.

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