In 1931, seven years prior to the publication of his much-loved collection of poems, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, T. S. Eliot wrote the following delightful letter to his soon-to-be four-year-old godson, Thomas Faber. This spoof party invitation – addressed to ‘all Pollicle Dogs and Jellicle Cats’ – would eventually inspire Eliot’s aforementioned book which in turn, decades later, would inspire the phenomenally successful musical Cats. Eliot corresponded with Thomas until he passed away in 1965.
FABER & FABER
24 RUSSELL SQUARE
I believe that you are to have a Birthday soon, and I think that you will then be Four Years Old (I am not Clever at Arithmetic) but that is a Great Age, so I thought we might send out this
TO ALL POLLICLE DOGS & JELLICLE CATS
TO COME TO THE BIRTHDAY OF
Pollicle Dogs and Jellicle Cats!
Come from your Kennels & Houses & Flats;
Pollicle Dogs & Cats, draw near;
Jellicle Cats & Dogs, Appear;
Come with your Ears & your Whiskers & Tails
Over the Mountains & Valleys of Wales.
This is your ONLY CHANCE THIS YEAR,
Your ONLY CHANCE to – what do you spose? –
Brush Up your Coats and Turn out your Toes,
And come with a Hop & a Skip & a Dance –
Because, for this year, it’s your ONLY CHANCE
To come with your Whiskers & Tails & Hair on
Ty Glyn Aeron
Ciliau Aeron –
Because your are INVITED to Come
With a Flute & a Fife & a Fiddle & Drum,
With a Fiddle, a Fife, & a Drum & a Tabor (A Musicle Instrument that makes a Joyful Noise)
To the Birthday Party of
THOMAS ERLE FABER!
Oh But P.S. we mustn’t send out this Invitation after All, Because, if ALL the Pollicle Dogs & Jellicle Cats came (and of course they would come) then all the roads would be blocked up, and what’s more, they would track Muddy Feet into the House, and your Mother wouldn’t Like that at All, and what’s More Still, you would have to give them All a Piece of your Birthday Cake, and there would be so Many that there wouldn’t be any Cake left for you, and that would be Dreadful, so we won’t send out this Invitation,
so no more for the Present from your