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James Bowen  

Author Known for Traveling the Streets of London with his Cat Bob

James Bowen is an author and busker based in London. His books "A Street Cat Named Bob" and "The World According to Bob," written with the author Garry Jenkins, were both international best-sellers.

James Bowen was born in Surrey in March, 1979. Following his parents’ divorce, he moved to Australia with his mother and stepfather. He was frequently bullied, and began sniffing glue while still in education, becoming a self-confessed “tearaway kid” who would later be diagnosed with ADHD, schizophrenia and manic depression. In 1997 he returned to the UK and lived with his half-sister, but this arrangement did not last; in time, he became homeless and began sleeping on the streets. From this point, James spent almost 10 years either sleeping rough or staying briefly in charity-run shelters; it was during this time that he began to use heroin in an attempt to escape the realities of homelessness.

In Spring 2007, James was enrolled on a methadone program, busking in Covent Garden and living in sheltered accommodation in Tottenham, London. One evening he returned home to find a ginger cat in the hallway of his building; assuming it belonged to another resident, he simply returned to his flat. When the cat was still there the following day, and the day after that, James became concerned and discovered the cat was wearing no collar or ID tag, and had an infected wound on his leg. James checked with other residents to see if the stray belonged to any of them, and when none of them claimed ownership of the animal James decided to help the cat himself.

He took the cat to a nearby veterinary surgery run by an animal charity, which provided antibiotics to treat the infected wound. In order to make sure he received the full two-week course of medication, James decided to take him in for a time while he continued to look for the stray’s owner. When he couldn’t find any information, he released the cat back on to the street, hoping he’d find his own way home. Instead, he began to follow James around, even following him onto the bus when he left to go busking. Concerned that the cat had nowhere else to go, James took him in on a permanent basis, naming him Bob after a character from the television drama "Twin Peaks."

Since Bob seemed keen to accompany James to work, he constructed a harness from shoelaces and began to bring him along to his regular spots in Covent Garden and Piccadilly, travelling in the window seat of the number 73 bus. The public reaction was positive and the pair became popular, their visibility increasing still further when James began selling The Big Issue. Soon the public began uploading videos of James and Bob to YouTube, and tourists from across the world would visit Covent Garden to see them. During this time, James decided to withdraw the methadone treatment; he credits his success to Bob, saying “I believe it came down to this little man. He came and asked me for help, and he needed me more than I needed to abuse my own body. He is what I wake up for every day now... he’s definitely given me the right direction to live my life.”

A number of books have been published about James and Bob.

In time, James and Bob’s public appearances attracted the attention of the Islington Tribune, which first published his story in September 2010. This was read by the literary agent responsible for the UK rights to John Grogan’s Marley and Me, who introduced James to the writer Garry Jenkins. The pair produced an outline for a book which the agent used to secure a book deal with the publishers Hodder & Stoughton. Since its publication the book has sold over 1 million copies in the UK alone and has been translated into 30 languages and spent over 76 weeks at the top of the Sunday Times’ bestseller list in both its hardback and paperback format. "A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life" was published in the USA in July 2013 and entered the New York Times best-seller list at No 7.

"The World According To Bob" continues the story of James and Bob's lives on the street, including the period leading up to their meeting with his agent. It was released on July 4, 2013 and was also a number one book on The Sunday Times' bestseller list.

"Bob: No Ordinary Cat" is a version of the book "A Street Cat Named Bob" re-written specifically for children. It was released on Valentine's day 2013. "Where in The World Is Bob?" is a picture book in which readers have to spot Bob, James and assorted other items in scenes around the world. It mirrors Bob's travels in a hugely popular blog "Around the World In 80 Bobs," where fans of the book take photographs of the famous cat at various locations around the world. It was published in October 2013.

"My Name is Bob," a picture book for young children written by James with Garry Jenkins and illustrated by Gerald Kelley, was published by Random House in the UK in April, 2014. It imagines Bob's life prior to him meeting James.

It was announced in March 2014, that the film had been optioned by London-based Shooting Script Films, and its producer Adam Rolston.


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