In eighteenth-century England--where cockfighting and bullbaiting drew large crowds, and the abuse of animals was routine--the idea of animal protection was dismissed as laughably radical. But as pets became more common, human attitudes toward animals evolved. An unconventional duchess defended their intellect in her writings; a gentleman scientist believed that animals should be treated with compassion; and with the concentrated efforts of an eccentric Scots barrister and a flamboyant Irishman, the lives of beasts--and, correspondingly, men and women--began to change. Kathryn Shevelow, a scholar of the eighteenth century, gives us the dramatic story of the bold reformers who braved attacks because they sympathized with the plight of creatures everywhere. More than just a history, this cultural narrative is an exploration into how our feelings toward animals reveal our ideas about ourselves, God, mercy, and nature.--From publisher description.