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The Kit-Cat Club

Ophelia Field (English, 1990)

The Kit-Cat Club was founded in the late 1690s when Jacob Tonson, publisher and bookseller, forged a partnership with the pie-maker Christopher (Kit) Cat. What began as an eccentric publishing rights deal developed into a unique gathering of intellects and interests, including John Vanbrugh, William Congreve, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele and Robert Walpole.

Field describes the Whig-Tory ‘paper wars’, the London theatres’ battles over sexual morality, the making of Union with Scotland, Dublin society as governed by Kit-Cats, and the hurly-burly of Westminster politics. The book unravels the deceit, rivalry, friendships, and fortunes lost and found through the Club, alongside descriptions of how its alcohol-fuelled, all-male meetings were conducted.

Tracing the Club’s far-reaching influence, as an unofficial centre of Whig power and patronage throughout the reigns of William & Mary, Anne and George I, this group biography illuminates a period when Englishmen were searching for a new national identity.

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