Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy birthday, poet Edward Lear

Edward Lear
It is the birthday of British poet and painter Edward Lear (1812), whose nonsense poetry and limericks are beloved throughout the English-speaking world. Perhaps his best known poem is The Owl and the Pussycat (1871): "The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea/In a beautiful pea green boat,/They took some honey, and plenty of money,/Wrapped up in a five pound note." Lear was the youngest of 21 children. He was raised by his sister Ann, who was 21 when he was born. Lear's father was as stockbroker and was put in debtor's prison when he was 13. Lear earned money as an illustrator when he was 15 and was hired in 1832 to do bird illustrations for the London Zoological Society. He was hired to live at the estate of the Earl of Derby and illustrate for him as well. His assembled his first book of poetry , A Book of Nonsense (1846) for the earl's grandchildren. Lear was an accomplished landscape painter and was widely published in his lifetime, though his serious painting is largely forgotten today. Among his many published works are Nonsense Songs (1871) and Laughable Lyrics (1877).

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