Mr Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense

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.

Published 5 October 2017

Jenny will be talking about Edward Lear at the following events:


  • Monday 3rd October: Faber Members evening, London
  • Saturday 7th October:   BBC History Weekend, Winchester
  • Sunday 8th October:  Borderlines Book Festival, Carlisle
  • Friday 13th October: Cheltenham Literary Festival
  • Saturday 14th October: Thame Arts and Literature Festival
  • Thursday 9th November: Daunts Books, London
  • Friday 10th November: Ways with Words, Southwold


  • 2nd-4th March: Aldeburgh Literary Festival
  • 7th-8th April: Cambridge Literary Festival

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

ISBN-1: 9780571269549