There is 'luxury and inconvenience on the one hand, liberty, hard living and filth on the other'. So Edward Lear described the mysterious and often misunderstood country of Albania. Edward Lear's travels through Albania and Macedonia in 1848 came about when an outbreak of cholera closed off all other routes out of Salonica - the port in which he arrives as these journals begin - setting him off on this unusual adventure. His meticulous journals offer a unique insight into the Balkans in this period; the difficulties and romance of travelling in Albania - especially as an Englishman, visiting places never previously seen by foreigners; and the profound effect of the landscape and its people on an artist's mind. Lavishly illustrated with the artist's own paintings and suffused with a unique charm, "Edward Lear in Albania" catalogues his idiosyncratic observations of this beautiful and unknown land. Including vivid insights into the environment, culture and politics of the period, these Journals offer an intimate portrait of a wild yet captivating corner of Europe.
Edward Lear (1812-1888) was an artist, illustrator and writer known for his Nonsense Poetry, his limericks and, increasingly, for his topographical watercolours. The twentieth of twenty one children, he was raised by his eldest sister, Ann, twenty-one years his senior. At the age of fifteen, he and his sister had to leave the family home and set up house together. He started work as a serious illustrator and his first publication, at the age of 19, was Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots. He continued to paint seriously throughout his life and his natural history paintings were favourably compared with those of Audubon. In 1846 Lear published A Book of Nonsense, a volume of limericks which went through three editions and helped popularise the form. His most famous piece of nonsense, The Owl and the Pussycat, followed in 1857, written for the children of his patron Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby. Although he exhibited in the Royal Academy from 1859-1873, he depended financially on the benevolence of his friends and worries over money continued until his death in San Remo, where he had spent his final years.