The earliest evidence of a human and a pet can be traced as far back as 26,000 BC in France where a boy and his 'canid' took a walk through a cave. Their foot and paw prints were preserved together on the muddy cave floor, and smoke from the torch the boy carried was left on the walls, allowing archaeologists to carbon-date their journey. And so, the story unfolds, from these prehistoric days all the way up to the present, of ourinnate and undeniable need to live in the close company of animals.
In this startling new work, acclaimed cultural detective and lifelong pet owner Jacky Colliss Harvey uses her compelling storytelling skills and keen eye for historical investigation to examine our role as animals' companions, in this exploration of the history not of the pet, but of us as pet owners.
Drawing on literary, artistic and archaeological evidence of our relationships with other species, over thousands of years of human experience, she examines the when, the how and the why of our connection to those animals we take into our lives, assessing these against the latest scientific thinking on this complex and enthralling subject, and suggesting new insights into this most long-standing of all human love-affairs.
About the Author
Jacky Colliss Harvey was born in the wilds of Suffolk, and grew up surrounded by farms and animals. She studied English at Cambridge University and art history at the Courtauld Institute, and putting those two together, went on to a career in the museum world as a writer, editor and publisher. At the same time, her red hair also found her an alternative career as a life model and a film extra, playing everything from a society lady in 'Atonement' to a Parisian whore in 'Bel-Ami'.
Her first book, Red: A History of the Redhead, was a New York Times bestseller, and finally convinced her to write full-time. It was followed by a guided journal, My Life As A Redhead, and in 2019 by The Animal's Companion - an exploration of the 26,000 year love story between people and their pets. Her writing has been praised as 'quirky and deeply perceptive', and as 'witty...wide-ranging and throughly enjoyable.' She lives in London with two very spoiled rescue cats, while her partner lives in New York - so a good deal of her writing is done at 30,000 feet.
Whatever her altitude, you can find her on Twitter @JCollissHarvey, and on Instagram as jackycollissharvey.
[A] lively exploration...Colliss Harvey has an eye for surprising details and a lovely way with description. * Sunday Times *
An engaging, insightful consideration of how anthropomorphism, cruelty, egocentrism, empathy, realism and sentimentality have blended and blurred across centuries - teaching us a vast amount about animals, and
even more about ourselves.
* Irish Times *
both erudite and entertaining...Anyone who has ever loved an animal, which is surely most of us, will find it to be a profound, witty and moving account of that bond. * Glasgow Herald *
tremendously erudite...beautifully illustrated...for all its research into deeper matters, the real pleasure of The Animal's Companion
lies in its stories. And they come thick and fast. * The Spectator *
Informative, irresistible, quirky and deeply perceptive. Anyone who has ever loved a creature should read this book. -- Sir Roy Strong
Colliss Harvey is an engaging narrator. She sets scenes and creates immediacy. She writes eloquently, sometimes humorously, often rousingly. * Independent on RED *
Engagingly informative. * Daily Mail on RED *
A bright and breezy cultural history. * Daily Telegraph on RED *
An entertaining romp through the meaning and mythology of red hair. * Sunday Times on RED *
A fascinating new book. * Guardian on RED *