FRANCES A. SIMPSON (1857-1926)
Without any doubt, Frances Simpson would be the most 'quoted' cat fancier and judge from the first 60 years of the Cat Fancy.
She was a most prolific and talented writer. She demonstrated an excellent grasp of the social mores and tact required to successfully navigate the highly charged political environment of such an intensely popular hobby, about which, she was personally and heavily engaged in promoting.
As a feline historian who personally witnessed the first Crystal Palace Show through the eyes of a 14 year old, her own later efforts in recording the beginnings of the early cat fancy, the clubs, the breeds, the merits of the individual cats and the contribution of respective breeders or exhibitors; was, and is still today, an achievement totally without parallel.
Many of her contemporaries within the Fancy were also writers, journalists and authors, and although fellow fanciers and judges such as Charles H. Lane, T.J. Ambrose, Dorothy B. Champion and C.A. House, all produced historical works which have added and enlarged our knowledge base, the seminal works of Frances Simpson, particularly Our Cats and All About Them (1902), followed swiftly by The Book of The Cat (1903), published by Cassell & Co., remain at the pinnacle of feline historical references.
In much the same way that The Poultry Book (1903) was considered to be Harrison Weir's 'Magnum Opus', The Book of The Cat was similarly the 'Magnum Opus' of the feline world, an in-depth and well researched window into the new and emerging world of the cat fancy.
Added to this already commanding skill-set, Frances was also an effective Show Manager, a respected Judge and mentor of new judges, a busy Club Secretary (of a number of clubs) and the hard-working promoter of the Blue Persian. In fact, one of her greatest contributions to the fancy, other than as a judge and historian, was her unequalled passion for the Blue Persian, which saw this variety rise from relative obscurity to one that commanded international recognition and respect. It was this firm foundation and then strong pillar, from and upon which, the Persian breed as a whole took flight.
In many respects, she was indeed the 'grand matron' of the fancy, often steering its course from the sidelines and by setting an example for others to follow. Her influence can be seen in almost every facet of breeding, exhibiting, judging and the recording of feline history. If any one hand was at the tiller of the ship called 'cat fancy', it was very likely to have been hers above all others, and most often achieved with extreme subtlety.
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