I thought you might be interested in an odd reference I’ve just found in a Victorian novel. I’m reading A Bid For Fortune by Guy Boothby, written in 1895 and notable for being one of the first novels to feature a master criminal. Dr Nikola’s constant companion is a huge black cat (domestic variety) which often sits on his lap and which he strokes soothingly while plotting evil – yup, just like Blofeld. Anyway, on page 79 of the recent reprint (‘Dr Nikola, Master Criminal’ published by Wordsworth), the hero describes his first encounter with this sinister moggie thusly:
‘I have seen cats without number, Chinese, Persian, Manx, the Australian wild cat and the English tabby, but never in the whole course of my existence such another as that owned by Dr Nikola.’
Australian wild cat?! Guy Boothby was an Australian, and made his hero one, too. Can this be a reference to the Queensland tiger or am I missing something? There are certainly no native cats in Australia, are there? According to Wikipedia, Boothby published a travel book the previous year (1894) describing a journey he made ‘across Australia’ from Cooktown to his home town of Adelaide – did he see a ‘wild cat’ during that real life adventure?
A bit of a mystery and I’d be interested in your thoughts.
All the best,