Lilian Jackson Braun

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Lilian Jackson Braun
BornLilian Jackson
(1913-06-20)June 20, 1913
Willimansett, Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts
DiedJune 4, 2011(2011-06-04) (aged 97)
Landrum, South Carolina

Lilian Jackson Braun (June 20, 1913 – June 4, 2011[1]) was an American writer well known for her light-hearted series of The Cat Who... mystery novels. The Cat Who books center on the life of (former) newspaper reporter, James Qwilleran, and his two Siamese cats, Koko (short for Kao K'o Kung) and Yum Yum, first in an unnamed city and then in the fictitious small town of Pickax located in Moose County "400 miles north of everywhere." Although never formally stated in her books, the towns, counties and lifestyles described in the series are generally accepted to be modeled after Bad Axe, Michigan, where Braun resided with her husband until the mid-1980s.

Life and career[edit]

Born Lilian Jackson in Willimansett, Chicopee, Massachusetts, to Charles Jackson and Clara Ward Jackson,[2] she began her writing career as a teenager, contributing sports poetry for the Detroit News. She went on to write advertising copy for many of Detroit's department stores. For the Detroit Free Press she worked as the "Good Living" editor for 30 years, and retired from that post in 1978.

Between 1966 and 1968, she published three novels to critical acclaim: The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, and The Cat Who Turned On and Off. In 1966, The New York Times labeled Braun "the new detective of the year."[citation needed] The rising mystery writer then disappeared from the publishing scene for 18 years. In 1986, the Berkley Publishing Group reintroduced her work to a new generation of fans with the publication of an original paperback, The Cat Who Saw Red. Within two years, Berkley released four new novels in paperback and reprinted her first three from the 1960s. Braun's series again rose to the top of best seller lists. Penguin Group released the 29th novel in her series, The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers, in January 2007. Like many writers of her generation, Braun was an admitted technophobe; she wrote all of her books in long hand and then typed them herself.

Little was known about Braun, who was protective of her private life. Publishers long gave an incorrect year (1916) for her birth date, which remained unknown until she finally gave her true age during a 2005 interview with the Detroit News. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Louis Paul Braun, a sister, Florence Jackson, and a brother, Lloyd Jackson.[3][4] She resided in Tryon, North Carolina, with her (second) husband of 32 years, Earl Bettinger, and their two cats.[5] Each of her books is dedicated to "Earl Bettinger, the Husband Who..."

Earl A. Bettinger (born November 24, 1923) died at the age 96 on 20 July 2020.[6]


Braun died at the Hospice House of the Carolina Foothills, in Landrum, South Carolina, from a lung infection.[7]

"The Cat Who..." novels[edit]

  1. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (1966) – In 1966, The New York Times labeled Braun "the new detective of the year."[citation needed]
  2. The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern (1967)
  3. The Cat Who Turned On and Off (1968)
  4. The Cat Who Saw Red (1986) (Nominated for the 1987 Anthony Award and Edgar Award, Best Paperback Original)[8][9]
  5. The Cat Who Played Brahms (1987) (Nominated for the 1988 Anthony Award, Best Paperback Original)[8]
  6. The Cat Who Played Post Office (1987)
  7. The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare (1988)
  8. The Cat Who Sniffed Glue (1988)
  9. The Cat Who Went Underground (1989)
  10. The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts (1990)
  11. The Cat Who Lived High (1990)
  12. The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal (1991)
  13. The Cat Who Moved a Mountain (1992)
  14. The Cat Who Wasn't There (1992)
  15. The Cat Who Went into the Closet (1993)
  16. The Cat Who Came to Breakfast (1994)
  17. The Cat Who Blew the Whistle (1995)
  18. The Cat Who Said Cheese (1996)
  19. The Cat Who Tailed a Thief (1997)
  20. The Cat Who Sang for the Birds (1999)
  21. The Cat Who Saw Stars (copyright, 1998; published, 1999)
  22. The Cat Who Robbed a Bank (2000)
  23. The Cat Who Smelled a Rat (2001)
  24. The Cat Who Went up the Creek (2002)
  25. The Cat Who Brought Down the House (2003)
  26. The Cat Who Talked Turkey (2004)
  27. The Cat Who Went Bananas (2005)
  28. The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell (2006)
  29. The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers (2007)
  30. The Cat Who Smelled Smoke (cancelled by publisher, Putnam)[10]

Short stories[edit]

  1. The Cat Who Had 14 Tales (1988)
  2. The Private Life of the Cat Who... (2003)
  3. Short and Tall Tales (2003)


  1. ^ Fox, Margalit (June 7, 2011). "Lilian Jackson Braun, 'Cat Who' Writer, Dies at 97". The New York Times.
  2. ^ "Lilian J. Braun, 97". Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  3. ^ "Lilian Braun Obituary". Petty Funeral Home. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  4. ^ "Obituary". Blue Ridge Now. June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ "Author of 'The Cat Who' series dies at 97 in SC". The Washington Times. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  6. ^ "Obituary for Earl A Bettinger | McFarland Funeral Chapel".
  7. ^ "The Cat Who author Lilian Jackson Braun dies". BBC News Online. June 8, 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Bouchercon World Mystery Convention : Anthony Awards Nominees". October 2, 2003. Archived from the original on February 7, 2012. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  9. ^ "Best Paperback Original Mystery Novel Edgar Award Winners and Nominees - Complete Lists". Archived from the original on December 20, 2012. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
  10. ^ Sattler, Sam (June 6, 2011). "Book Chase: The Cat Who Is No More (Lilian Jackson Braun Dead at 97)". Retrieved March 6, 2012.

External links[edit]