The late Patrick Eddington was a Utah artist and former high school art teacher, who had as a goal the desire to create “The Cat Project,” where literary and visual artists from around the world were asked to produce original works about cats, which would be included in a traveling exhibition and book (unfortunately never realized). Doris Lessing [1919-2013], born in what was then Persia (now Iran), spent her childhood years in southern Africa. The author of nearly 50 books, she received the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming only the eleventh woman to receive literature’s most prestigious award in its 106-year history. Her works are often viewed as in-depth studies of twentieth-century living conditions, behavioral patterns, and historical progressions. Her masterwork is considered to be The Golden Notebook, a postmodern feminist work published in 1962. Interestingly, Lessing, who was a devoted cat lover throughout her life, is also the author of a book which conjures up the subtleties of feline existence, On Cats. With regards to this small archive, it is significant that this rather busy Nobel-Prize winning author would provide Eddington, a high school art instructor and small press printer, with a piece of original prose regarding cats, supplied specifically for him at a relatively low cost.
Included in the archive are the following:
TLS. Letter [8” x 10”] from Doris Lessing to Patrick Eddington, sent from London, and dated 17th January 1986. A letter in which Lessing discusses her feelings with regards to one of her earlier works, “A Small Personal Voice.” Eddington had recommended it to a friend, and Lessing claims, “The trouble is, I wrote some of it a long time ago and I no longer agree with a lot of it. I wonder if she would like to read something more recent? I wrote and read five lectures for C.B.C., under the title of Prisons We Choose to Live Inside. This represents what I think now, not what I used to think in the ‘fifties.’” Signed “Yours, Doris L.” at the foot.
ALS. Letter on a sheet of paper [7” x 9”] written by Doris Lessing to Patrick Eddington. Not dated. In the brief letter, Lessing thanks Eddington for the book by Barbara Kingsolver, and writes, “I am glad u [sic] like Brian Aldiss. He is one of my favorite people.” She closes the letter assuring Patrick that if she writes something suitable regarding the subject of cats, she will remember him.
TLS. Brief letter [8 ¼” x 11 ¼”] from Doris Lessing, sent from London and dated January 6, 2000, addressed to Patrick. Lessing opens with, “OK I’ve done a short piece. It is not a question of being paid, but of time- am as usual in the middle of something. I don’t need a thousand dollars… Perhaps 500? I don’t need a Navajo rug….” Signed by Lessing.
Typed letter [8 ¼” by 7 ¾”] from Lessing’s literary agent, Jonathan Clowes, to Patrick Eddington, dated 10 January, 2000, written in reference to the piece written by Doris Lessing titled “About Cats.” Clowes writes, “We are happy for you to use this piece for the sum of $500, and perhaps you could let us have further details of your publication so that we can send you a permission contract for non-exclusive rights in the work. In particular please let us know which territories the book will be published in and how many copies will be printed.” Signed by the literary agent at the foot.
Typed manuscript signed [8 ¼” x 11 ½”]. “About Cats” by Doris Lessing. The original piece that Lessing sent to Patrick Eddington, titled “About Cats,” containing periodic manuscript corrections made by the author. Cat lovers will immediately recognize this as a keenly insightful, succinct piece regarding the precious feline’s nature. Within the work, the author muses, “People who do not observe their cats, but only rely on ‘received’ wisdom, miss out. A cat gives back what you put into it, returning affection and attention, but withdrawing in dignified silence if ignored. No creature is more sensitive to slights and taunts and even teasing. Too much, and they will take themselves off in search of a more sympathetic home. And yet one may not generalize: people who have had more than one child know that every baby is born different, and similarly, in a litter of kittens each one will be an individual. Like humans they are coarsegrained and sensitive, stupid and clever, clinging and standoffish. They may be talkative and silent, show-offs and modest introverts.”. Item #53906