HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Edward Lear, 12 May
“How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!
Who has written such volumes of stuff!
Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
But a few think him pleasant enough.”
He popularised the limerick and he invented some wonderful words. Who, after reading The Owl and the Pussycat can ever forget the ‘runcible spoon’?
Lear was a very gifted man, creating beautiful paintings from his travels in Egypt, Italy, Albania etc. He illustrated the poems of Tennyson and named his house ‘Villa Tennyson’, partly because he idolised Tennyson’s wife Emily.
It was in 1846 that he first published nonsense verse. The Owl and the Pussycat came out in 1867, and other nonsense poems include The Jumblies, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat and The Pobble who has no Toes.
His life was plagued with ill health (he had heart disease, epilepsy and asthma) and unhappiness over unrequited love (he was homosexual), so while he made the world laugh with his writings, he was far from laughing himself as he struggled through life.
A good biography is That Singular Person Called Lear by Susan Chitty
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