Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Braun, Lilian Jackson

Born in Chicopee, Massachusetts on June 20, 1913, Lilian Jackson Braun was the author of The Cat Who... series of mystery novels. Braun began writing as a teenager, and her sports poetry was often featured in the Detroit News. Braun worked as an advertising copywriter and public relations executive and at the Detroit Free Press before writing The Cat Who novels, all which involve a former newspaper reporter and his two Siamese cats.

Her first mystery novels, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, and The Cat Who Turned On and Off, were published to critical acclaim between 1966 and 1968. The books follow two Siamese cat sleuths, Koko and Yum Yum, as they attempt to assist their owner, Jim Qwilleran, in solving crimes. Although the books’ setting is fictitious, Braun was believed to have modeled the country and culture after Bad Axe, Michigan, where she and her husband lived until the mid-1980s.

However, Braun ceased writing around 1968 due to intense pressure to add more gore and violence to her material. She worked as the “Good Living” editor for the Detroit Free Press for almost 29 years following her departure from writing. After a long hiatus, Braun began writing additional books in the series in the 1980s, coming back to her series with The Cat Who Saw Red in 1986. Two years later, four new novels in paperback were released, and three of her older mysteries from the 60s were reprinted. The 29th and final book in Braun’s The Cat Who series, The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers, was published in 2007 when Braun was 93 years old.

Braun described her books as “classic mysteries.” Braun passed away June 4, 2011. Her first husband, Louis Paul Braun, had died before her, but she was survived by her second husband, Earl Bettinger.