Mr B's review
Edward Lear was a force of nature. Rapacious with both pen and paintbrush, he wanted to experience as much as he could in a single lifetime. The Victorian age was a perfect one in which to satisfy his yearning for adventure but Lear’s frantic creativity and celebrated humour was tempered by illness and self-doubt. With extensive reference to Lear’s words and pictures, Jenny Uglow’s beautifully illustrated biography celebrates his work but gives an insight into the more troubled source of his clever ‘nonsense’.
Acclaimed historian Jenny Uglow brings us a fascinating and beautifully illustrated biography of Edward Lear, full of the colour of the age.
Edward Lear lived a vivid, fascinating, energetic life, but confessed, ‘I hardly enjoy any one thing on earth while it is present.’ He was a man in a hurry, ‘running about on railroads’ from London to country estates and boarding steamships to Italy, Corfu, India and Palestine. He is still loved for his ‘nonsenses’, from startling, joyous limericks to great love songs like ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ and ‘The Dong with a Luminous Nose’, and he is famous, too, for his brilliant natural history paintings, landscapes and travel writing. But although Lear belongs solidly in the age of Darwin and Dickens – he gave Queen Victoria drawing lessons, and his many friends included Tennyson and the Pre-Raphaelite painters – his genius for the absurd and his dazzling word-play make him a very modern spirit. He speaks to us today.
Lear was a man of great simplicity and charm: children adored him, yet his humour masked epilepsy, depression and loneliness. Jenny Uglow’s beautifully illustrated biography, full of the colour of the age, brings us his swooping moods, passionate friendships and restless travels/ Above all it shows how this uniquely gifted man lived all his life on the boundaries of rules and structures, disciplines and desires – an exile of the heart.
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?