Edward Lear

Edward Lear was born on May 12, 1812. We remember his birthday as Limerick Day, as he is widely known as the father of the limerick. He didn't invent that form of poetry, but used it, first just for the amusement of children on the estate where he lived. Later, he published his whimsical writings and pictures in A Book of Nonsense, which became highly popular among children of his day.

What many people don't remember about Edward Lear is that he was a highly respected wildlife artist in his lifetime. His first published book was a collection of detailed paintings he made of parrots. He was 19 and self-published.

Lear had an amazing range: he was both a serious artist and a doodler. What I love about him is that he was comfortable doing both. At first, he didn't want to be known as the writer of A Book of Nonsense. But when he saw how much children loved his rhymes and cartoons, he took pride in his work for children.

I've collected a few of my favorites of his work below. Enjoy.

Bruce Van Patter
Creative writing motivator

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His limericks:

These are just a few of the ones I think today's kids would understand:

There was a Young Lady whose chin
Remembled the point of a pin;
So she had it made sharp, and purchased a harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.

There was an Old Person of Ewell,
Who chiefly subsisted on gruel;
But to make it more nice, he inserted some Mice,
Which refreshed that Old Person of Ewell.

There was an Old Man of the West,
Who never could get any rest;
So they set him to spin on his nose and his chin,
Which cured that Old Man of the West.

There was an old person of Ware,
Who rode on the back of a bear:
When they ask'd, "Does it trot?"
he said, "Certainly not!
He's a Moppsikon Flopsikon bear!"

(Lear loved to make up his own words just for the sound of them.)

In honor of Lear's birthday, my son, Nathan, and I have taken on each other for a second year in a limerick challenge. You can help decide the winner! (There's also a link to last year's entries.)

His imaginary plants:

His imaginary languages:

Lear loved to play with the sounds of words. Sometimes friends would get a letter from him, only to find that it was written in gibberish. Here's a sample letter Lear wrote.

Thrippy Pilliwinx, -- Inkly tinksy pobblebookle abblesquabs? Flosky? beebul trimble flosky! Okul scratchabibblebongibo, viddle squibble tog-a-tog, ferrymoyassity amsky flamsky ramsky damsky crocklefether squiggs.

Flinkwisty pomm

His paintings:

Check back soon... I'll be adding other Great Creators to my collection!