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Edward Lear's Book of Nonsense

Permalink: https://diginole.lib.fsu.edu/islandora/object/fsu:learcollection

Edward Lear was a British poet and painter. Although he wrote many poetry volumes and travel journals, he is best known for his Book of Nonsense, first published in 1846, which consists of drawings and short poems he wrote for the grandchildren of Lord Derby. While he is not credited as the inventor of the limerick, the poems of the Book of Nonsense would be defined as such today. This online collection includes the multiple editions of the Book of Nonsense published from 1846 to 1880. It also includes the many derivitive editions and works which call the Book of Nonsense their inspiration.

Our Edward Lear book collection belongs in the John M. Shaw Childhood in Poetry collection. John MacKay Shaw (1897-1984) was an AT&T Executive who began collecting related to childhood in the 1930s. From this hobby the collection grew. Following his retirement in 1959, Shaw gave his collection of almost 6,000 volumes to Florida State University Libraries. For the next 25 years, Shaw went to Strozier Library daily to study, write, and talk about his books. The Shaw Collection has grown immensely over the years and it currently comprises over 35,000 volumes and 69 linear feet of archival material.

The manuscript materials in this collection are from the 17th-20th Century Correspondence and Documents collection at FSU.

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Facsimile of A nonsense alphabet
Facsimile of A nonsense alphabet
drawn and written by Edward Lear., Published for the first time from ms. drawings and text executed by Lear about 1849; cf. "Publishers' note"., "1,000 copies only have been printed and no further issue will be made. This copy is number 690."
Laughable lyrics
Laughable lyrics
by Edward Lear., Includes table of contents., Title vignette., Half title: Nonsense songs, botany, and alphabets.
Letter from Edward Lear to Edwin Prince, 1841
Letter from Edward Lear to Edwin Prince, 1841
Summary: In this letter, written to Edwin Prince on August 20, 1841, Edward Lear inquires after John Gould on the death of Gould's wife. Lear illustrated Gould's famous ornithological work. The letter is written from Knowsley Hall, seat of the Earl of Derby. It was for Derby's children that Lear wrote, The Book of Nonsense, published in 1846.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, August 11, 1877
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, August 11, 1877
Summary: Has sent the painting of the Kinchinjunga. Asks them not to state the price to anyone, for he would charge others more. Requests payment of the balance. May not return to England, for he has no family and few remaining friends. Speaks of various acquaintances.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, August 23, 1877
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, August 23, 1877
Summary: Lear is delighted that the painting of the Kinchinjunga pleases. Has been told that he cannot consider himself a painter since he paints on commission and is unknown to the public.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, December 31, 1883
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, December 31, 1883
Summary: Sends New Year greetings. Is 72 but continues working. Prefers large subjects as less trying to the eyes. Sends his works to Foord's in Wardour Street for sale. The two sons of his old servant now care for him. Quotes a portion of "Mrs. Jayphar's Wisdom."
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, July 3, 1868
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, July 3, 1868
Summary: Playfully accuses Bruce of avoiding him.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, July 31, 1863
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, July 31, 1863
Summary: Feels remorse at not having called on Mrs. Bruce. Has been hoping to get their children to his house. Has been making a small copy of a painting for "little Willie" Beadon, whose father lived at No. 9, opposite. Is going to Hastings. Refers to Napier's writings on Cephalonica. Lear will be in London in September and Bruce may select from numerous paintings. Refers to "Ionian Judge" political controversy. Hears Bruce is well liked as Under Secretary.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, June 6, 1875
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, June 6, 1875
Summary: Lear's friend, Penry Williams, has become concerned about the fate of correspondence he retains. Lear asks if Lord Aberdare would agree to keep it in case anyone should wish to prepare a memoir of Williams. Lear fears that he may forget to address the title his old friends now elevated to the peerage. He has completed Lord and Lady Aberdare's paintings of Smila and Benares. Will do Lord Aberdare's Kinchinjunga next winter.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, November 24, 1865
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, November 24, 1865
Summary: Compliments Bruce on his Ministry and describes his happy reaction to the appointment of Chichester Fortescue to the Irish Secretaryship. Hopes for the rise of T. G. Baring. Has been sketching but weather is foggy. He fears asthma. His servant George is ill at Corfu.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, October 18, 1865
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, October 18, 1865
Summary: Quarantines have changed his travel plans. After painting view of Jerusalem and Mt. Olympus, Lear will head south. Holman Hunt is to marry in December and go to Palestine. References to numerous social visits, including one to Tennyson.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, September 11, 1872
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, September 11, 1872
Summary: Regrets he will not be able to visit, for all his time is taken up. Acknowledges a commission for a painting to be executed in India.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, September 25, 1884
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, September 25, 1884
Summary: Acknowledges the purchase of his paintings for pounds 31.8.0. Is surprised that Millais receives such prices for works that require much less labor than Lear's. Considers new publications and republications. Refers to Richard Doyle as "a wonderfully beautiful artist." Speaks of his work on 200 illustrations for Tennyson.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, September 26, 1875
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, September 26, 1875
Summary: Has ordered a six-foot canvas to be sent to Sanremo for the painting of the Kinchinjunga. Stays at Franklin Lushington's on the way to Folkstone.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, September 8, 1866
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, September 8, 1866
Summary: Inquires about the opportunities for an old friend's son, who has been thrown out of work by recent economic conditions. Refers to the death of Thomas George Baring's father; the son will now be Lord Northbrook. Lear's friend Penry Williams thinks of settling in London. Lear has accidentally burned a canvas. Sir Henry Storks has asked Lear to go to Malta with him. References to Cardinal Manning and to Holman Hunt.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, undated
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, undated
Summary: Concerns establishing a time for a visit with Bruce. Refers to the William Beadons.
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, undated
Letter from Edward Lear to Henry Bruce, undated
Summary: Sorry to have missed him. Mentions T. G. Baring, E. Drummond, Mr. Helps, Stephen Carr, and Spenser Robinson. Gives an anecdote of a school inspector.
Letter from Edward Lear to Nora Bruce, April 15, 1868-May 7, 1868
Letter from Edward Lear to Nora Bruce, April 15, 1868-May 7, 1868
Summary: On a sheet begun at Cannes, 15 April 1868. Lear is miserable in Cannes and decided to leave. Since he could not go to Palestine as planned, he went to Corsica to paint. However, wet weather and fever make him think of returning to Nice and England.
Letter from Edward Lear to Nora Bruce, April 25, 1875
Letter from Edward Lear to Nora Bruce, April 25, 1875
Summary: Has failed to reply to her because of his eyesight and guests. Has seen Oliver Jones, Lord Digby and Lord Wyatt. Failed earlier to congratulate her daughter, Margaret Richmond, on the birth of a son. Is preparing landscape sketches for both Lord and Lady Aberdare. Plans another for Lord Aberdare. Expects to be in London in June. Requires a big room to exhibit his paintings. His servant's wife has died.
Letter from Edward Lear to Nora Bruce, December 24, 1870
Letter from Edward Lear to Nora Bruce, December 24, 1870
Summary: Mrs. W. Napier has not come. Refers to recent publication of his Nonsense Songs and Stories. His new rooms are too wet to occupy. The war has made it difficult to sell paintings. Becomes increasingly indifferent as he grows older. Asks after Mrs. W. Beadon, her children and others.

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