The Curious Case of the Cardiac Consuming Cat

Title page with fancy first letter and a drawing of a heart with a bite mark. Text: The Curious Case of the Cardiac Consuming Cat or The Mystery of the Poet's Heart
Picture: two hand-drawn urns with a label on each, one saying "To Stinsford Parish Church" the other saying "To Westminster Abbey". Each urn has the initials TH and the dates 1840-1928. Text: When Thomas Hardy died in 1928, his widow had to decide whether to bury him in the local churchyard or to accept the honour of a place in Poets’ Corner. She chose to bury Hardy’s heart, intact, in his hometown and to send the ashes of his cremated body to Poets’ Corner. Two identical brass urns were prepared for the purpose.
Image: A floral biscuit tin with its lid open and part of a human heart visible inside. Text: The evening before the funeral, a doctor visited Hardy’s home and surgically removed the heart from the poet’s body. The vital organ was placed in a biscuit tin belonging to Mrs. Hardy so that it could be transferred to the custom-made brass urn by the funeral director the following morning.
Image: Drawing of a cat licking its lips beside an upturned biscuit tin on a table with some dark stains. Text: When local funeral director Charles Hannah arrived the next morning, he found the biscuit tin upended, the heart destroyed, and Hardy’s cat contentedly licking his lips. Surely the household cat hadn’t eaten the great writer’s heart?! Er, he had.
Image: drawing of a cat with tongue and claws sticking out and a bushy tail. Two human hands are clasped rougn the cat's neck. Text: Quick-thinking Hannah saw no option other than to wring the cat’s neck!
Image: Drawing of a heart inside a dead cat inside a round container inside a square wooden box. Text: Hastily stuffing the cat and what remained of the heart into the biscuit tin, Hannah fled the house in search of a wooden casket large enough to house a cat, small enough not to arouse suspicion.
Image: Sombre-looking man in top hat and tails carries a box with initials TH on its lid. Sea of sad faces in background. Text: Hundreds of solemn onlookers later watch the wooden casket (N.B. no brass urn in sight) being carried to the burial site, unaware that they were observing the fanciest cat funeral of all time.
Image: Drawing of gravestone with initials TH and dates 1840-1926. Three cats are on the grass around the gravestone: one walking happily, one cleaning its bum, one looking at the viewer through one eye. Text: Could it really be true?
Image: Drawing of a human heart with a bite mark. Text: What do you think?

One of my favourite animal-related heart stories is the legend of the cat who ate Thomas Hardy’s heart: never conclusively verified but I like to think it’s true. Poor old cat! My dad told me about Hardy’s heart when I was very young, but I got most of the details for my telling of the story from this very thorough (and entertaining) blog post.

Hand holding a tiny book printed in black and white with cover showing.  Cover: Title page with fancy first letter and a drawing of a heart with a bite mark. Text: The Curious Case of the Cardiac Consuming Cat or The Mystery of the Poet's Heart

I’ve made my illustrated version of the story into a tiny 16 page book that you can print out and put together at home, using a single sheet of A4 paper, should you feel so inclined. You can find it for free download in the Creative Resources section, just below the Heart Haiku zines, and it comes with assembly instructions. I’ve also included a blank template in the Things To Make & Do section, should you want to make a mini book of your own.

I’ve got a few other animal-related heart histories I’m hoping to share on the blog soon (though possibly not as picture books in all cases!) and am always keen to hear more, so do let me know your stories in the comments or, even better, write them as a haiku in the comments on this post.

Here’s an old haiku I wrote about this animal-related heart history:

A heart in a cat

In a biscuit tin in a

Casket in the ground.

Drawing of a heart inside a dead cat inside a round container inside a square wooden box.

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