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Edward Lear

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Edward Lear, circa 1867

Edward Lear (1812-1888) was a prolific artist, writer and musician. He published very popular books of nonsense poetry and prose, and was particularly noted for his limericks. He illustrated poetry by Tennyson and set some of Tennyson’s poems to music.

Knowing Edward Lear ( is a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Oxford University. The research is founded on collaborations with a range of organisations, including the BBC, Harvard University, the Ashmolean Museum, the British Academy, the Natural History Museum, and the Tennyson Society. The project seeks to examine Lear’s nonsense writing alongside his natural history drawings, landscape paintings, travel books, correspondence, and diaries. It studies his achievement in relation to a broad range of scientific, religious, socio-political and cultural contexts, and it also aims to explore his legacy, from the beginnings of the modernist experiment to the present moment — roughly, from T. S. Eliot’s comment to Stravinsky that Lear should be read alongside Mallarmé, to John Ashbery’s claim that Lear was his ‘all-time favourite poet’.

# Title Description Contributor
1 Edward Lear and Fantasy

Jasmine Jagger provides a short introduction to Edward Lear, a literary nonsense author whose...

Jasmine Jagger
2 Edward Lear's Vision

A talk given at the Ashmolean Museum on Edward Lear’s life, art, and poetry. Edward Lear’s...

Matthew Bevis
3 Edward Lear's Feelings: Weeping

'He weeps by the side of the ocean, He weeps on the top of the hill', the poet wrote of himself...

Matthew Bevis, Jasmine Jagger
4 Edward Lear's Feelings: Laughter

Lear once spoke of 'this ludicrously whirligig life which one suffers from first and laughs at...

Matthew Bevis, Jasmine Jagger
5 Edward Lear's Feelings: Disgust

This programme explores appetite, desire, and disgust in Lear. It studies a range of limericks...

Matthew Bevis, Jasmine Jagger
6 Edward Lear's Feelings: Wonder

This programme examines different meanings of 'wonder' in Lear - as both a positive and a...

Matthew Bevis, Jasmine Jagger
7 Edward Lear's Feelings: Introduction

This programme introduces Lear and outlines the structure of the programmes. Each episode will...

Matthew Bevis, Jasmine Jagger
# Resource Title Description Contributor
1 Edward Lear's Lines of Flight

The Chatterton Lecture on Poetry, 'Edward Lear's Lines of Flight', delivered by Professor...

Matthew Bevis
2 Paintings, Parrots and Poetry: The Life of Edward Lear

A live event recorded at the Natural History Museum with Matthew Bevis.

Matthew Bevis