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04 May 2012

Edward Lear's Bicentury

Edward Lear, known for being a great English artist, illustrator, author and poet, is renowned today primarily for his nonsense poetry and especially his limericks.

Edward Lear was born into a middle-class family in Holloway (1812). He was the 21st child of Ann and Jeremiah Lear but was mainly raised by his sister Ann who was 21 years his senior.

Lear quickly gained recognition for his work and in 1832 and was hired by the London Zoological Society to execute illustrations of birds. In the same year, the Earl of Derby invited Lear to reside at his estate; Lear ended up staying on until 1836. Lear then went on to write his first book of poems, A Book of Nonsense (1846) for the children of the Derby household.

Lear died in 1888 at the age of 76. His funeral was said to be a sad, lonely affair as none of his many lifelong friends were able to attend.

Lear's bicentenary this year is celebrated with a range of events, exhibitions and lectures in venues across the world including an International Owl and Pussycat Day on his birthday.


'There was an old man with a beard
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared,
Two owls and a hen
A lark and a wren
Have all built their nests in my beard!'

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