Monday, September 21, 2015

Thurston Hopkins – Cats of London in the 1950s

Thurston Hopkins was one of Britain’s greatest photojournalists and part of the golden age of reportage. Working for Picture Post he captured the humanity, spirit and social inequality and contradictions of life in 1950s Britain.

One of the first essays by Hopkins published in Picture Post was his 'Cats of London' (Feb 1951 edition), almost certainly suggested by the many cats he met while walking around the streets of London on other assignments. The blitz had made many cats homeless, and these strays had often established themselves in the bombsites, living and breeding more or less wild on the scraps the could find and that friendly neighbours put out from them.

Even cats who still enjoyed good homes would spend much of their time on the streets; the cat flap was as yet unknown and every cat owner still 'put the cat out' as part of the ritual of retiring for the night. City cats were still street cats first and home cats when it pleased them. Hopkins started to collect pictures of these cats on the street, attracting them with a little food, and it made an interesting if not profound story.

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