Edward Lear’s Diaries & More Reading Material

The Houghton Library blog has posted the second part of Matt Bevis’s series on Edward Lear devoted to the importance of the diaries which, as I’m sure most of you know, are available online as images and partial transcripts.

It seems that multimodality is now all the rage. In a previous post I mentioned Constance W. Hassett’s “‘Does It Buzz?’: Image and Text in Edward Lear’s Limericks.” “Humorous Nonsense and multimodality in British and American Children’s Poetry,” by Elżbieta Chrzanowska-Kluczewska appears in the issue of the European Journal of Humour Research I mentioned in the same post: the article contains some interesting observations on Edward Lear.

Meanwhile a full-length book by Richard Elliott has appeared, which discusses The Sound of Nonsense: it starts with Lear and Carroll and then moves on to modernism and the avant-gardes.

And, of course, there are still at least three books on Edward Lear forthcoming!

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Edward Lear, Potamos (1863)

Edward Lear, Potamos.
Inscribed (in ink over pencil) in Greek, dated 21. May. 5.P.M. 1863 and numbered 189. 32 x 48cm.


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Edward Lear, Palermo from Pares (1859)

Edward Lear, Palermo from Pares.
Inscribed Palermo/ fr. Pares/ April 6-/59, pen and ink and watercolour and pale blue/grey paper. 21 x 35cm.
* Lear was not in Palermo on April 6th, 1859 so the date might have been confused.


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Edward Lear Visits Beachy Head with His Sister Sarah

An Edward Lear picture story in 10 panels (nos. 5, 7 and 8 missing) relating an excursion with Lear’s sister Sarah Street.

The pictures have been copied (or traced) from Lear’s presumably lost originals and bound with the typescript of the letters to his other sister Ann. The pictures are on three pages, but were almost certainly drawn each on a different sheet; that the missing pages are marked between pictures.

Probably made before 1853, when Sarah first left for New Zealand, since Edward is relatively slim, not yet the fat puppet he will be from 1860 on. On the other hand, his painting of Bechy Head is dated 1862 and Sarah was back in England from late 1859 to 1865 and Lear might have visited the place with her then, but no mention is made of it in the diary.

1. S. & E. set out on a visit to Beachy Head. (Sarah & Edward!)
2. S. & E.  find a difficulty in getting over a large scraper.
3. S & E. descend a steep path towards the sea.

4. S. & E. find themselves involved among large rocks.
[No. 5 is missing.]
6. S. & E. perceive some Rocks resembling savages’ heads.

[7 & 8 are missing.]
9. E. Commences an ascent of a perpendicular rock with S.
10. S. & E. being alarmed by some large birds lose their footing and are precipitated down the perpendicular rock.

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Edward Lear’s Death Certificate

Federico Guida, who has just finished editing a forthcoming, illustrated book on Edward Lear’s stay in Corpo della Cava and the surrounding area (which will contain two essays of mine, btw) sends me a scan of Edward Lear’s Italian death certificate, which is available from Antenati: Gli archivi per la ricerca anagrafica.

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A Little More to Read on Edward Lear

Cara Giaimo on Edward Lear as “a Teenage Parrot-Painting Prodigy” from Atlas Obscura.

And Matthew Bevis’s long review of Jenny Uglow’s Mr Lear for the London Review of Books, vol. 39, no. 24 (only available to subscribers, unfortunately).

I have also found out that many of John Gould’s books on birds are available at Archive.org.

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Edward Lear, The Monastery of Stavronikita, Mount Athos (1856)

Edward Lear, The Monastery of Stavronikita, Mount Athos.
Inscribed and dated ‘Stavronikeles.[sic]/ 2. Septr. 1856.’ (lower left) and ‘Ilex a oak’ (lower right), numbered ’42’ (lower right) and ‘1’ (verso)and further inscribed with notes. Pencil, pen and brown ink and watercolour. 6 1/8 x 9 1/8 in. (15.6 x 23.2 cm.)

Charles Church, a gift from the artist, and by descent to the present owner.


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