Edward Lear was a Nineteenth Century writer of nonsense poems
When and Where was he Born?
12th May 1812, Highgate, London, England.
Edward Lear was the youngest of twenty-one children of Jeremiah Lear a Stockbroker and his wife Ann. Brought up by his eldest sister Ann.
From his sisters Ann and Sarah who taught him to draw.
Chronology/Biography of Edward Lear:
1816: His father became a defaulter with the Stock Exchange and the impecunious family had to abandon their fashionable way of life. Lear was brought up by his sister Ann, then 21 years old and his mother has nothing more to do with him.
1826: He begins to earn his living as an artist whilst still living with his sister.
1830: (June) Starts work on “Illustrations of the Family Psittacidae or Parrots”. (November) He quickly gains a reputation as an ornithological artist when the first two volumes of the Parrots are published. Becomes an Associate of the Linnean Society.
1831: Edward Lear begins a collaboration with John Gould on the “Birds of Europe”. Visits Amsterdam, Berne and Berlin with Gould.
1832: (July) Starts drawing the animals at Knowsley Hall for Lord Stanley.
1835: Goes to Ireland with the Bishop of Norwich and his son Arthur Penryn Stanley and becomes interested in landscape painting.
1836: Goes on a walking tour of the Lake District. His eyesight begins to get worse.
1837: Edward Lear visits Belgium, Germany and Switzerland on his way to Rome.
1838: Travels to Southern Italy and begins painting in oils.
1839: Walking tour in Central Italy.
1841: Returns to England. (September) Publishes “Views in Rome and Its Environs.” (December) Returns to Rome.
1842: Visits Sicily.
1845: (May) Returns to England.
1846: Edward Lear publishes “Illustrated Excursions in Italy”. ” Publishes The first edition of “A Book of Nonsense” under the pseudonym Derry Down Derry. Publishes “Gleanings from the Menagerie and Aviary at Knowsley Hall. Gives drawing lessons to Queen Victoria and then returns to Rome.
1847: Visits Sicily and Calabria and witnesses the revolution.
1848: (April) Because of the political state in Italy he leaves Rome and Moves on to Corfu, Athens, Marathon and Thebes where he becomes ill. (December) Moves to Malta.
1849: Travels to Cairo and Sinai then returns to Malta.(July) Returns to England and prepares for the entrance examination to The Royal Academy Schools.
1850: Taken on as a student at the Royal Academy.
1851: Publishes “Journals of a Landscape Painter in Albania”. Meets Alfred and Emily Tennyson.
1852: Introduced to William Holman Hunt who teaches him painting. Goes to live with Hunt at Hastings and meets other members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Publishes “Journals of a Landscape Painter in Southern Calabria.
1853: (December) The damp English weather is bad for his health and he leaves for Egypt.
1854: Travels up the Nile and then returns to England.
1855: Publishes the second edition of “A Book of Nonsense”. Goes to Corfu but becomes lonely and depressed, a condition, which he suffered from throughout his life.
1856: Edward Lear travels to Albania and Greece.
1857: Returns to England for the summer and Corfu for the winter.
1858: Travels to Bethlehem, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. Winters in Rome.
1859: (May) Returns to England. (December) Returns to Rome.
1860: Returns to England and works on his major oil painting “The Cedars of Lebanon”.
1861: (11th March) Death of his sister Ann. Visits Florence and then winters in Corfu. Publication of the third edition of “A Book of Nonsense”.
1862: (March) “The Cedars of Lebanon exhibited at the Great Exhibition but is not well received. Returns to Corfu.
1863: Publishes “Seven Ionian Islands”.
1864: Edward Lear leaves Corfu for Athens when the island is ceded to the Greeks. Summer in London. Winter in southern France.
1865: Writes his first full length nonsense story “The History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple Popple”. Returns to England but then moves on to Venice as he is commissioned to do painting by Lady Waldegrave. Winters in Malta.
1866: Returns to England. (November) Thinks about proposing marriage to Gussie Bethell. Travels to Egypt and Jerusalem. Returns to England. Winter in Cannes. Writes the “Owl and the Pussycat” song.
1868: Travels to Corsica then returns to England. Winters in Cannes.
1869: Publishes “Journal of a Landscape Painter in Corsica”.
1870: Buys land in San Remo and decides to settle down. (December) Finishes “Nonsense Songs and Stories”, “Botany and Alphabets”.
1871: Moves into Villa Emily. (December) Finishes “More Nonsense”.
1872: Spends summer in England. Travels towards India but turns back at Suez.
1873: Travels to India again and visits Bombay.
1875: Leaves India and Ceylon. Spends summer in England.
1876: Publishes final nonsense book “Laughable Lyrics”
1877: Brief visit to Corfu to see his friend who is ill.
1878: Summer in Switzerland.
1880: Buys new land for building. (February) Last visit to England. (September) Returns to Monte Generoso, Italy.
1881: Summer in Monte Generoso at the Villa Tennyson.
1884: Edward Lear sells the Villa Emily
1885: Spends summer in Brianza.
1886: Completes payment for the Villa Tennyson building work.
1887: Abandons his long held plan to illustrate Tennyson’s work.
Ironically he wished to be known for his landscape painting but is more often known as the “Father of English Nonsense”.
1841: “Views in Rome and Its Environs”
1846: “Illustrated Excursions in Italy”. “A Book of Nonsense” (under the pseudonym Derry Down Derry). “Gleanings from the Menagerie and Aviary at Knowsley Hall.
1851: “Journals of a Landscape Painter in Albania”.
1863: “Seven Ionian Islands”.
1865: “The History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple Popple”.
1866: “Owl and the Pussycat”
1869: “Journal of a Landscape Painter in Corsica”.
1871: “Nonsense Songs and Stories”.
1872:“More Nonsense Songs”.
1876: “Laughable Lyrics”
(1900): “The Jumblies”.
Never Married though contemplated proposal to Gussie Bethell.
When and Where did he Die?
29th January 1888, San Remo, Italy.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
San Remo, Liguria, Italy.
Places of Interest: