Edward Lear


"all things fair
With such a pencil such a pen
You shadow'd forth to distant men
I read and find that I was there"

Edward Lear is buried in the Foce Cemetery in San Remo in Italy.

Edward Lear's Grave

Edward Lear's Grave, San Remo, Italy


Edward Lear

Lear was born in Holloway in north London and was the 20th child of a stockbroker but was largely brought up by his elder sister Ann.

At the age of nineteen he began a career as a draughtsman for the Zoological Society and soon published a volume of coloured plates of the parrot family. The experience of drawing birds and animals for the society fed his imagination and later resurfaced when he started writing.

He came under the patronage of the Earl of Derby and to amuse the earl's grandchildren he wrote A Book of Nonsense Verse (1845). The opening poem in the collection was the now-famous The Owl and the Pussy-Cat. The poem highlights his verbal inventiveness and sense of fantasy. Like his contemporary Lewis Carroll, Lear is credited with a number of neologisms - most famously the 'runcible spoon'.

Lear travelled extensively before settling in San Remo in 1871. For much of his life, he suffered from epilepsy, depression and loneliness. He was a close friend of Tennyson's wife Emily and named his house in San Remo the 'Villa Tennyson'. One of his ambitions was to fully illustrate Tennyson's poems.

Lear never married but he was very attached to his Suliot chef Giorgio Cocali - who is buried was next to him at San Remo. His other important companion was his cat Foss who died in 1886 and was buried with considerable ceremony in the garden of his villa.

Today, Lear is particularly remembered for his limericks. However his reputation as a skilled watercolourist has also risen.

There was an old person of Cromer
Who stood on one leg to read Homer;
When he found he grew stiff, he jumped over the cliff
Which concluded that person of Cromer.






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