The original Kit-Cat Club was a gathering of intellects and interests which flowered for around 20 years in the early 18th century. Its prominent members included William Congreve, Sir John Vanbrugh, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele and Sir Robert Walpole (as well as no fewer than nine Dukes), and it became a centre of formidable power and patronage.
The Kit-Cats are remembered for their toasts drunk to the accompaniment of celebratory verses honouring ‘’bright dames’’ including Lady Mary Wortley Montague, the Duchess of Beaufort and the scandalous Diana Kirke – and for the portraits by Kneller’ of 48 of their members.
The original Kit-Cat has had many successors, some more distinguished than others. The London based Kit Cat Club, whose 21st birthday we celebrated on the 21st June 2010 , shares its name (if not its ethos) with numerous jazz joints and dance bands, a literary association at Yale, a group of radical sexual liberationists in Berlin and, of course, the chocolate bar.