There are, of course, Dame Trot stories that do not fit neatly into the story patterns discussed elsewhere on this site. The characters also appear outside the world of chapbooks in related formats like a set of paper dolls from 1875 and a charming 19th-century puzzle. But there are also oddball narratives which clearly derive from the traditional Dame Trot story but do not follow any of the established patterns. Perhaps these were unsuccessful innovations, or parts of the literary tradition that have been forgotten. However, they present some interesting alternatives to the traditional narratives.
Though Dame Trot’s kittens appear in other versions of the narrative, mainly the one which follows Darton’s sequel, one 1808 publication focuses specifically on her son Grimalkin. Grimalkin is fun-loving, but “conceited,” and falls into bad habits and bad company, drinking and disregarding his family. His tragic end after a shipwreck may be the reason this Dame Trot spin-off never got very popular.
Decades later, another previously unattested version of the Dame Trot story appeared in a 1859 collection of children’s stories entitled Nightcaps. There are recognizable elements in this version; Dame Trot also has a dog who is important to the story, much is made of the cat’s domestic competence, and the cat rides the dog. However, new developments also emerge. The cat, named Selina only in this version, also helps a neighboring feline with her no-good husband and gives the dog flute lessons.
The story continued to evolve into the 20th century, as evidenced by one of the latest versions of the story published in the 1930s. Once again, the framework of the story remains familiar: Dame Trot discovers a strange cat who turns out to have quite a talent for household chores. But in this version, Dame Trot’s background as a poor but kind woman is emphasized, and the feline turns out to be a “fairy cat” who brings Dame Trot fortune and wealth as a reward for her kindness and generosity.
These variations demonstrate the continued capability of Dame Trot’s story to change and adapt from one era to the next, from one publisher to another in a constant flux, even as some regular story patterns emerged.