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Edward Lear: Not Just Nonsense, But Parrots


Around here, we’re familiar with the work of Edward Lear, but mostly in terms of his fantastic limericks and nonsense poetry.

Turns out, there was much more to the man than silliness and a gift for rhyme. When he was 20 years old (yes, twenty – I am old and useless, please take me out back and shoot me dead) he successfully had a book published. The book was Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots, a natural history book about parrots that Lear wrote and illustrated, published in 1832, and is still considered one of the finest pieces of ornithology ever produced (more beautiful, collectible old birds books to peruse here). Apparently, his works influenced the likes of future bird enthusiasts such as John James Audubon.

Lear was only 18 when he landed a spot as a draughtsman at London’s Zoological Society, where he immediately set about sketching, categorizing and planning for a book about the parrot family.

Be sure to peruse this BibliOdyssey post to see some of the breathtakingly beautiful color plats of the birds Lear drew so painstakingly.

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Beth Carswell

About Beth Carswell

I've been reading, selling, researching, loving and writing about books with AbeBooks since 2000.

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