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.
Jenny Uglow 's books include prize-winning biographies of Elizabeth Gaskell, William Hogarth and Sarah Losh. The Lunar Men, published in 2002, was described by Richard Holmes as 'an extraordinarily gripping account', while Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick, won the National Arts Writers Award and A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. Her most recent book is In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon's Wars, 1793-1815. She lives in Canterbury.