© Trustees of the British Museum

© Trustees of the British Museum

George Cruikshank, Undeviating Rectitude, 1819. British Museum images.




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Further Announcements


I don’t remember whether I already mentioned the exhibition currently at the Scottish National Gallery, Edward Lear in Greece, featuring pictures from the collection of Steven Runciman. The Gallery will also offer a free lecture on “Edward Lear: Painter of Poetical Topography” by Senior Curator of British Prints and Drawings Charlotte Topsfield; at Hawthornden Lecture Theatre – Gardens Entrance (SNG) on 25 April 2014.

Edward Lear, Palaiukhora, Crete. 29 April 1864. Christie's.

Edward Lear, Palaiukhora, Crete. 29 April 1864. Christie’s.

Stephen Duckworth will be giving a talk on “Edward Lear and his Cretan Drawings” at the Historical Museum of Crete, Andreas & Maria Kalokerinos House (27 Sofokli Venizelou Ave / 7 Lysimachou Kalokerinou Street 71202 Heraklion, Crete) on Wednesday, 14 may 2014 at 19.30.

Meanwhile, issue 10 of the New Escapologist, dedicated to Absurdity has been published.

Aeon Magazine has a very interesting article on repetition in music with some relevance to Nonsense: One more time: Why do we listen to our favourite music over and over again? Because repeated sounds work magic in our brains.

And here is an essay discussing Lear, Lewis Carroll and W.S. Gilbert:

Banerje, Sreeradha. “Elements of Social Concern and Absurdity in Non-sense Poetry of the Late-Victorian Period.” Literary Spectrums: Recent Studies in English Literature. Ed. Partha Kumar Mukhopsfhysy. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2007. 153-166. Google Books.

This is added to the Studies on Nonsense page, together with the results of the latest attempts at refreshing my German:

Lang, Peter Christian. Literarischer Unsinn im späten 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhundert: Systematische Begründung und historische Rekonstruktion. Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Peter Lang, 1982.

Köhler, Peter. Nonsens: Theorie Und Geschichte Der Literarischen Gattung. Heidelberg: Carl Winter – Universitätsverlag, 1989.

Finally, though not strictly related to Nonsense literature, the following book contains a long chapter on Edward Lear as an illustrator of his own work (pp. 205-264), together with analyses of illustrators Linley Sambourne (The Water Babies), Arthur Hughes (At the Back of the North Wind), Tenniel (Alice books), Caldecott, Greenaway and Crane:

Esser-Hall, Gabriele. Untersuchung Zu Formen Visueller Textinterpretation Im Englischen Kinderbuch Von 1846 Bis 1890. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1997.

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Peter Newell, A Game of Croquet without Rules


Harper’s Young People, June 30, 1885.

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Desperate Remedies: A Punch Limerick


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Gerace Celebrates Edward Lear

I found this article only a few days ago: it reports that Gerace, a small town in Calabria, put up a plaque last June to celebrate Edward Lear’s two visits to the town. Here is a photograph:


The plaque reads:

In memory
Edward Lear
English painter, writer
and traveller
who was here a guest
of the Scaglione family
August 1847
The Municipalty of Gerace
The Anglo Italian Club
in Reggio Calabria

The article also mentions a book I did not know of: Il tempo, il viaggio e lo spirito negli inediti di Edward Lear in Calabria by Giuseppe Macrì, based on 21 previously unpublished drawings at Harvard, presumably part of the Houghton Library collection which has been online for some time. Here is a review, in Italian, from direfarescrivere, anno IX, n. 95, novembre 2013.

While we are on the subject of non-English books, Annemarie Schöne’s 1970 book on Nonsense, Englische Nonsense- und Grusel-Balladen: intellektuelle Versspiele in Beispielen und Interpretationen und mit Übertragungen im Anhang (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) is now available for download from Heidelberg University Library. Also, Winfried Nöth’s essay “The Art of Self-Reference in Edward Lear’s Limericks” can now be read on Google Books as part of a collection: Literatur und Lebenskunst: Festschrift für Gerd Rohmann. Ed. Eva Oppermann. Kassel: Kassel University Press, 2006. 131-145.

Of some interest might also be Louise Anemaat’s Natural Curiosity: Unseen Art of the First Fleet (Sydney: Newsouth, 2014), discussing a collection of drawings of Australian animals executed in the 1790s for Aylmer Bourke Lambert and acquired by  the 13th Earl of Derby in 1842. A richly-illustrated preview is avaiable on Google Books.


F.O. Morris, Knowsley Hall, c. 1880, colour woodblock print. From F.O. Morris, A Series ofpicturesque views of seats of the noblemen and gentlewomen of Great Britain and Ireland (from Anemaat’s book)

For something lighter, take a look at Anthony Madrid’s version of Edward Lear’s “The Scroobious Pip” and try to identify Anthony’s 3%.


Finally, Andy Packer informs me that highlights from Slingsby’s Ode to Nonsense are now available on Vimeo.

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George Carlson’s Old Person of Ware



George Carlson, from Puzzle-Fun Comics, no. 1, Spring 1946.

On Carlson see the long two-part essay by Paul Tumey: part 1, part 2.

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More Essays and Announcements

I have now updated the Studies on Edward Lear page with several articles mentioned in this post, and a new one:

Woddis, Anna. “’More or Less a Sorrow’: Some Observations on the Work of Edward Lear.” Pictures at an Exhibition (Psychology Revivals): Selected Essays on Art and Art Therapy. Eds. Gilroy, Andrea and Tessa Dalley. 2014 ed. London: Routledge, 1984. Google Books preview.


Meanwhile, Robert Peck has written to announce a new book on Edward Lear; here is the relevant passage in his e-mail:

I am happy to report that in January I signed a contract with David R. Godine, a Boston-based publisher, for a book on the natural history paintings of Edward Lear.  Sir David Attenborough has agreed to write a foreword.  The book will contain a detailed account of Lear’s natural history career and include many paintings that have never before been reproduced from the Houghton Library at Harvard and from many public and private collections in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. It will include information contained in my Harvard Library Bulletin essay of 2012, but additional information as well.  The book will probably not be published until late next year or early 2016.  I will keep you up to date on its progress.

Also, Stephen Duckworth announces that in May he will be giving a lecture on Lear in Crete in view of the 150th anniversary of his visit, which you will be able to follow on the Diaries blog. He also reports on rumours of a possibly coming Edward Lear Society. Details on both as soon as I get them.

Finally, the next issue of the New Escapologist should have a very short note by me on Edward Lear and the Absurd.

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