Edward Lear

Edward Lear's Nonsense Poetry and Art

According to Wikipedia, Edward Lear was born on the 12th of May in 1812 and died on the 29th of January in 1888. He lived 76 years as an accomplished writer of poetry and prose.

Edward Lear’s personal life was a bit guarded. He suffered with epilepsy, a condition which he kept secret except from his closest family.  Edward Lear was the 20th child of a middle class family who was raised by his eldest sister Ann, twenty–one years his senior.  His sister watched out for Edward most of his life. His parents were Ann and Jeremiah Lear. His father was a prosperous stockbroker. At the age of four, Edward Lear and his sister Ann moved away from their parent’s home because his family suffered financial burdens.

Edward Lear was a special type of poet who introduced the limerick into English Literature.  He gained infamy for his nonsense writings that are enjoyed to this day. Edward Lear’s works are revered as the art of a special talent.

It may not be as well known by lovers of his nonsense poetry and art that he was a great photographer. Lear traveled the world in search of animal subjects for his photography collection. His first published work as an illustrator was titled Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots in 1830 when Edward was only 19 years of age. Edward Lear found favor with the Audabon because of his eye for birds in his photographic art. Read about Lear and John Proby’s adventures in 1847 in “Lear in Sicily”. This work is a picture essay.

Edward Lear continued painting throughout his life. He had one serious goal which was to illustrate Tennyson’s poems. He published a work near the end of his life that only included a few of these Tennyson illustrations.

Lear gave drawing lessons to Queen Victoria for a brief time. That arrangement didn't work out because Lear could not follow the etiquette rules of the court. Edward Lear was labeled the Victorian Trickster. Lear’s work By Way of Preface shows that his nonsense criticism of the world also applied to him. Edward Lear found humor in everything around him in a very serious Victorian age.

Edward Lear has a few published works to his credit. That list includes  A Book of Nonsense; Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets; More Nonsense Pictures, Rhymes, Botany & c.; Laughable Lyrics, A Fourth Book of Nonsense Poems, Songs, Botany, Music & c.; Queery Leary Nonsense; Lear in Sicily; The Owl and the Pussycat, The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear, and Poetry for Young People. Historical volumes of Lear’s work are listed with the Academy of American poets.

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