Dick Whittington

From Academic Kids

Dick Whittington is a character in British pantomime, very loosely based on the real-life Richard Whittington. There are several versions of the traditional story, which tells how Dick, a boy from a poor family, sets out for London to make his fortune, accompanied by his cat. At first he meets with little success, and is tempted to return home. However, on his way out of the city, whilst climbing Highgate Hill from Archway, he hears the Bow Bells of London ringing, and believes they are sending him a message. A traditional rhyme is associated with this episode, as follows:

Turn again, Whittington,
Lord Mayor of London

On returning to London, Dick embarks on a series of adventures. In one version of the tale, he travels abroad on a ship, and wins many friends as a result of the rat-catching activities of his cat; in another he sends his cat and it is sold to make his fortune. Eventually he does become prosperous, marries his master's daughter, and is made Lord Mayor of London three times - though in reality four times.

A small stone statue of a black cat is situated on Highgate Hill and celebrates this story.

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