Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense

‘Moving and fascinating’. TLS Books of the Year.

We know Edward Lear as a genius of nonsense, full of shocks and surprises, and as a poet of strange loves: the Owl and the Pussy Cat, the Duck and the Kangaroo. We may know him too, for his astounding paintings of parrots and owls, or for his luminous landscapes. But do we know that he taught Queen Victoria to draw, travelled alone across the wild Albanian mountains, or waded through muddy fields with Tennyson? Lear lived all his life on the borders of rules and structures, of disciplines and desires. Children adored him and adults loved him, yet somehow he was always alone. This beautiful volume, a fresh and joyful appreciation, follows Lear from his troubled childhood to his striving as an artist, tracking his swooping moods, passionate friendships and restless travels. And, as we follow him, his ‘nonsenses’ are elegantly unpicked – without losing any of their fun.

Winner of the Hawthornden Prize, 2018

Shortlisted for Waterstone’s Book of the Year

Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non Fiction

Published 5 October 2017


You can order Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense now through Faber and Faber or through Amazon

ISBN-1: 9780571269549