Faber is to publish The Book Cat, a wartime tale based on real life story of Morgan, a cat who made his home at the Faber offices.
The Book Cat pairs Polly Faber, the granddaughter of the publisher's founder Geoffrey Faber, and illustrator Clara Vulliamy; the pair have previously worked together on the Mango and Bambang series (Walker Books) and Picking Pickle (Pavilion).
The synopsis states: "Morgan, a young orphaned cat, finds a cosy home at a famous London publishing house. Over time he learns a trade—and soon becomes the very best Book Cat in the business. And then the Blitz begins. Morgan finds himself training young kittens to be Book Cats and secretly evacuating them out of the city. Set in war-torn London, The Book Cat is a charmingly illustrated story full of heart and verve."
Polly Faber said: "You don’t know anything about Morgan. He is a very large, black, heavy and affectionate cat, who fastened himself on this establishment about two years ago.” This irresistible snippet from a letter written by my grandfather, Geoffrey Faber, in 1945 began my journey uncovering the absolutely and definitely true story of Faber & Faber’s wartime doorcat, Morgan, and his vital kitten evacuation work. It’s a project that has been a total delight to work on. I’ve particularly enjoyed having the chance to work at last with the publisher closest to my heart, and—the cream on the whiskers—seeing my text so brilliantly brought to life once again by Clara Vulliamy’s purrfect illustrations.'"
Vulliamy said: "I think we make a great team. The Book Cat was a fantastically exciting story to illustrate, combining the fiery skies and dangers of the Blitz with the hijinks of cats and kittens. Warning: expect sooty pawprints all over the furniture!"
Leah Thaxton, publisher, acquired world rights from Hilary Delamere at The Agency. She said: "Imagine my delight on discovering that Morgan had buried private papers detailing his editorial work with T S Eliot and Geoffrey Faber. Morgan was the first feline to serve as editor at Faber, and probably the last. The country owes him a debt of gratitude, not least for his vital wartime efforts to evacuate cats to the country."
The Book Cat will publish in hardback on 26th August 2021.