Kit-Cat Club is a literary club founded early in the 18th c. in London. So-called because its members met at the house of a pastry-cook named Christopher Kat or Cat (or Katt or Catling) in Shire Lane (near Temple Bar). Kat’s mutton pies were called Kit-cats.
Distinguished members of the club were Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, William Congreve, Sir John Vanbrugh, John Locke, and Sir Samuel Garth. They later used the premises of Jacob Tonson, the publisher, at Barn Elms. Many members had their portraits painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller. They are less than half length because the dining room was too low for half-size portraits. This size of canvas has come to be known as kit-cat (36 X 28 inches, it shows the head and one hand).