Limericks, Lear and Nonsense
Limericks are gloriously simple. Five lines long. Lines one and two rhyme with the fifth, while the third and fourth have a separate rhyme. Popularized by Edward Lear (1812-1888), limericks are the best known variety of nonsense verse and are adored by school children, stand-up comedians and fans of word-play. There is a certain train of thought that the only good limerick is a bawdy one but that would exclude a lot of clever verse.
Born on 12 May (National Limerick Day in some parts), Lear is a fascinating figure who travelled widely despite suffering from ill health throughout his life. An accomplished artist (especially in ornithology and landscapes), illustrator and author, he will always be most famous for his Book of Nonsense from 1846. It’s time to rhyme.
"There was an old man of Calcutta,
Who perpetually ate bread and butter;
Till a great bit of muffin on which he was stuffing,
Choked that horrid old man of Calcutta."
-- Book of Nonsense
Five Books From Edward Lear
Book of Nonsense
The book that started it all, first published in 1846 and republished many times since.
Nonsense Songs & Stories
First published in 1871, subsequent publications continued to add material.
Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets
The nonsense just kept coming.
Edward Gorey loved Lear’s work and provided illustrations for this 1968 book.
The Scroobious Pip
Odgen Nash completed this work and it was published in 1968.
Lots of Limerick Collections
The Penguin Book of Limericks
Rhymes, many indecent, from Twain, Kipling, Auden and plenty by Anon too.
Great Green Limericks
Selected limericks from The Observer newspaper’s Great Green Limerick Competition.
A Person From Britain Whose Head Was the Shape of a Mitten
A short collection of this Danish poet's nonsense poems and drawings.
Asimov's Sherlockian Limericks
Yes, Asimov wrote limericks about Sherlock Holmes!
A pop-up book full of very corny limericks for kids.
The Bookman's Limericks
“There was an old man from Nantucket, who found an old book in a bucke...”
Betty Jane Wagner & Edward Gorey
A collection of limericks for children.
Liquid Limericks: Titillation for Tipplers
A collection limericks for all boozy endeavours.
Lots of Limericks
A collection featuring many famous names – Lear, Carroll, Nash, Kipling.
1,700 examples of bawdy limericks.
Limericks: Too Gross or Two Dozen Dirty Stanzas
Isaac Asimov & John Ciardi
A witty collection of more than 550 limericks from two world-famous writers.
The master of science fiction loved filthy verse.
Playboy's Book of Limericks
Many outrageous limericks.
More of the World's Best Dirty Limericks
Dirty verse accompanied by cartoons.
The World's Best Limericks
The best printable limericks, as well as some which in their original form were not.