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Edward Lear the poet

Book of nonsense illustration

This illustration from 'The Book of Nonsense' is not in the Edward Lear display at the Walker or in its collections. Image from Wikimedia.

As a teenager, Lear developed a great skill drawing zoological subjects, such as birds, monkeys, squirrels and turtles. On the strength of this he was invited by Lord Stanley, the 13th Earl of Derby to Knowsley Hall, Merseyside, to draw in detail the animals in his much loved menagerie.

Whilst residing there, Lear sought to amuse Lord Stanley's grandchildren and created caricatures and cartoons accompanied by playful and often nonsensical tales. Initially Lear was sent to eat with the servants of the house but he charmed and befriended the family and began what would become a life long friendship with the Earl.

His humorous illustrations and musings would eventually be published as 'The Book of Nonsense' in 1846.


Limerick by Edward Lear

There was an Old Person whose habits
Induced him to feed upon Rabbits;
When he'd eaten eighteen, he turned perfectly green,
Upon which he relinquished those habits.

There was an Old Derry down Derry,
who loved to see little folks merry;
So he made them a Book,
and with laughter they shook
At the fun of that Derry down Derry.

Originally published 1846

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