Jane Allen - Author - The Judge's Cat

The Judge's Cat


309 Bong Bong Street, Bowral
Ph: (02) 4862 1634

Also available through

Lesley McKay's Bookshop
Spicer Street, Woollahra
Ph: 02 9328 2733




Letter from 1860 - pdf
Letter from 1872 - pdf
Letter from 1875 - pdf
Letter from 1877 - pdf
Letter Extracts - pdf


The Judge's Cat

In Jane Allen's childhood home hung a picture of a young woman in a white dress with a blue sash, a small dog resting in her lap. It had arrived in a steamer trunk from England with other family memorabilia left to her father by his Godmother. The picture shows Allen's great-grandmother, Emily Bradshaw, who had looked after her father when he was sent to England in 1916 to boarding school.

There were also other portraits of Emily. She seemed an important figure in Allen's large extended family, spread around the world. Beginning with the letters, pictures, wills and medical records of her forebears, she has written a fictionalised version of lives played out in the Victorian age, told through letters and journals. This is Great Britain in its imperial heyday: prosperous, adventurous and confident. She imagines how her forebears would have thought and behaved in many situations that have not been recorded, but are known to have happened.

At crucial moments in her story a mysterious white cat appears – only visible at first to Emily's husband, Thomas. Other darker undercurrents flow below the daily life revealed here, beneath the births, marriages and deaths of Emily's ever-expanding family.


"I'd like to congratulate you once more on an absolutely brilliant achievement and wish it all the success it so richly deserves. It is again the result of unsurpassed scholarship and is bound to soar to the top of the list in no time at all. I feel it would make a fantastic basis for a TV serial. I am finding it hard to put it down."

Olga Katchan


"I congratulate Jane Allen on writing this book. I found this to be such a good read. I don't think that it was an easy job and it sure took a lot of effort and researching on her behalf, but the finished story speaks for itself. I look forward to reading this again and I have recommended this book to my friends. Carly"

Five star review by Carly on Goodreads

"These letters and journal entries have the capacity to reduce the reader to tears A cleverly crafted read that will have you turning pages into the wee small hours!"

Narelle Blackadder, Principal - retirementlife.net.au

"A wonderful record of a fascinating family, I could not put it down. Congratulations on a wonderful glimpse into past life - I will be recommending The Judge's Cat to my family and friends. I will be looking forward to your next book. I have bought your book for my daughters. They enjoyed it so much that they are going to recommend it for their next book-club novel."

Suzanne Mathews, Music teacher

Extracts from The Judge's Cat

From the Journal of Victor Bradshaw, aged 11

Papa asked Miss Halkett and her Mother to have a Picnic with us in the garden on Sunday. It was a hot day. Grandmother was very pleased and sat in her Bath Chair wearing a Big Hat and swatting at bees that came buzzing around our lunch. Mabel fell over and hurt her knee, but only a little bit. Wilfred was coughing a lot and Nanny took him upstairs. I like Miss Halkett very much. She is very interested in Arctic Exploration, as I am. I hope she will be my Friend.

Letter from Thomas Bradshaw to his brother Lieutenant
Richard Bradshaw RN
Hampton Court Palace, 30 September 1860

My dear Richard
I hope this finds you in good health. I know you will be pleased to learn that I am engaged to be married. Her name is Emily Halkett; her father, a Captain in the Coldstream Guards, unfortunately died at a young age when she was a baby. He was the eldest son of the distinguished General Sir Hugh Halkett, Bt. I have been to Hanover to seek his permission and blessing which, I am pleased to report, was freely given. Emily at just 20 is somewhat younger than I, but she is mature and sensible, loving to my motherless children and attentive to their needs. I am a happy man again. I would like to invite you to share our joy by attending our wedding in late December.