"Exceptionally interesting. . . . [A] first-rate study. . . . For the Love of Animals is exemplary in every respect.  Shevelow, who teaches 18th-century British literature and culture at the University of California at San Diego, obviously has strong feelings about her subject, but she has not written a jeremiad. She is scrupulous in her research, fair to all participants in the ongoing debate, and writes eminently readable prose. It is a special bonus that she has rescued Richard Martin from oblivion and given him the respect he so clearly deserves."
Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World   full review

"Shevelow, a noted scholar of 18th-century British literature and culture, has written a richly engaging narrative on the individuals and social conditions that gave rise to the animal protection movement in England. With warmth and charm, she nimbly chronicles how the work of charismatic reformers and the public's emerging concern with animal suffering gave rise to the first animal welfare legislation. The setting is London in the 1700s, a city of splendor and squalor where horrendous animal abuse was sanctioned by philosophy and tradition and highly visible because the lives of its animal and human citizens were closely intertwined. Among those who took notice and protested were the earliest animal advocates, unique characters who lend human interest to the story as they face contempt and ridicule in championing their unpopular cause. Because then, as now, indifference and selfishness were the greatest obstacles to ending cruelty to animals. Lively, readable, and unique, this is a valuable addition to the literature on animal welfare history." Recommended for all libraries.
Leslie Patterson, Chicago P.L., Library Journal.com

"Shevelow’s passionate and lively book explores the cultural role of animals in 18th and early 19th-century England, chronicles [Richard] Martin’s odyssey to protect them and culminates in the passage of the bill and the SPCA’s founding.  It is a fascinating story. . . . Shevelow’s book shows how far we’ve come in terms of animal protection, and how far we have to go”
Michael O’Donnell, San Francisco Chronicle  full review

For the Love of Animals provides a perceptive and eye-opening look at how the British people developed a sense of obligation toward the defenseless creatures in their care.  Through vivid anecdotes, Shevelow . . . brings readers on a tour of Britain’s massive contradictions and paints memorable portraits of the motley crew that invented the animal-rights movement. . . . This book is thought-provoking and inspiring, reminding readers how much has—and hasn’t—changed over the centuries.”  Randy Dotinga, Christian Science Monitor  full review
" . . . an  outstanding history of the animal rights movement that emphasizes the connections between the past and the present day."  San Diego Union Tribune  full review

“A specialist in eighteenth-century British literature and culture, Shevelow is uniquely primed to write the early history of the animal protection movement as England was the home of the world’s first national animal protection law. The events leading up to the passage of that law, the Ill-Treatment of Cattle Act of 1822, make for absorbing reading. England in the eighteenth century was a famously cruel place, a land of slave dealers, extreme class distinctions, abject poverty, and horrendous treatment of animals—and yet this miasma produced the abolition of slavery, the improvement of prisons and mental hospitals, and the crusade against cruelty to animals. Shevelow follows various players in the struggle, including moral caricaturist William Hogarth, abolitionist William Wilberforce, flamboyant Irish MP Richard Martin, and eccentric Scots barrister Thomas Erskine, as the tide of public opinion is turned against bull baiting, cock fighting, and the everyday abuse of draft horses. Culminating in the founding of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, this mesmerizing history is full of colorful characters and anecdotes about eighteenth-century history.”  Booklist

"Bright account of the much-reviled reformers who fought to end animal cruelty in England.

In 1822, the British Parliament passed the Ill-Treatment of Cattle Act, the world’s first animal-protection law, setting the stage for the founding two years later of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Shevelow (British Literature and Culture/Univ. of California, San Diego; Charlotte: Being a True Account of an Actress’s Flamboyant Adventures in Eighteenth-Century London’s Wild and Wicked Theatrical World, 2005, etc.) details at length how people mistreated animals in the century and a half leading up to reform. Blood sports were commonplace, with bear gardens and cockpits attracting both criminal riffraff and noble lords. The belief that animals existed to serve human needs changed gradually, the author notes, with writers like Margaret Cavendish arguing that animals were rational and had their own forms of expression. But it was the growing popularity of household pets in the early 18th century that turned the tide, as owners of lapdogs and songbirds became animal lovers. Shevelow draws on journals and other writings to describe the affection for animals among such notable figures as Sir Isaac Newton and Samuel Johnson, both of whom favored cats, and the diminutive Alexander Pope, who was dwarfed by his Great Danes. She also offers stories of dog thievery for ransom, performing animals and the phenomenon of “monstrous birth”: women supposedly having infants that looked canine. Polemics against animal abuse, such as William Hogarth’s famous engravings The Four Stages of Cruelty, finally gave rise to a formal movement; reformers in 1800 launched a two-decade battle to win animal-protection legislation. The author describes animated debates, which culminated in the successful 1822 legislative drive led by Richard Martin, an Irish MP who once engaged in a gunfight to avenge the killing of a dog."  Kirkus Reviews