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Edward Lear
- Favourite Briton.

Born in Highgate, London
Born on 12th of May 1812
Died on 29th of January 1888

Although best known as a children’s writer through his Nonsense Books Edward Lear was also a gifted natural history painter and landscape artist whose work today is highly regarded.

Edward Lear was born on May 12 or 13 1812 in Holloway, London. He was the 20th of 21 children of Jeremiah and Ann Lear. The young Edward had hardly any formal education, being taught at home by his eldest sister, Ann. He began his career with ornithological illustrations and in 1829 produced an acclaimed book on parrots.

Throughout his life Lear was to suffer from ill health including attacks of epilepsy. His weak eyesight and delicate health led to Lear moving to Rome in 1837 where he lived until 1848. Here he concentrated on landscape paintings, also keeping a detailed journal of his travels. His published work so impressed Queen Victoria that he was hired to give the queen private drawing lessons.

In 1846 Lear published “A Book of Nonsense” which has never been out of print since. More Nonsense books followed with songs including such celebrated verses as “The Owl and The Pussycat”, “The Jumblies” and “The Dong with the Luminous Nose”. These surreal pieces written between 1867 and 1876 appeal both to children and adults, the former for their fun, the latter detecting strains of melancholy in them, perhaps in part from Lear being thwarted in his ambition to become a serious artist while knowing he was destined to be remembered for his insubstantial yet clever limericks. Edward Lear died in San Remo in Italy on January 29 1888 aged 75.

Links: Lear Home Page

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