Book of Nonsense, A.: LEAR, Edward Book of Nonsense, A.: LEAR, Edward Book of Nonsense, A.: LEAR, Edward Book of Nonsense, A.: LEAR, Edward

Book of Nonsense, A.

LEAR, Edward

Published by London: Thos. McLean, 1846
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"There was an old Derry down Derry,Who loved to see little folks merry:So he made them a Book,And with laughter they shook,At the fun of that Derry down Derry!"LEAR, Edward. A Book of Nonsense by Derry Down Derry. London: Thos. McLean, 1846. First edition. Two volumes bound in one. Small quarto (5 5/8 x 8 1/4 inches; 142 x 209 mm.). Two title-pages and seventy-two lithographed plates drawn by Edward Lear. First title-leaf very slightly worn at edges but with imprint complete. Mild to moderate foxing and staining throughout but far less than is usually seen. Overall an amazing copy of this cornerstone of children's literature.Contemporary half red hard-grain morocco over marbled boards ruled in gilt. Spine with four raised bands, decoratively tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments, matching marbled end-papers, all edges gilt. Expertly re-backed with the original spine laid-down. Armorial bookplate of Thomas William Tatton of Wythenshawe Hall, near Northendon, Cheshire, on front paste-down. Housed in a custom made, full maroon straight-grain morocco clamshell case, decoratively tooled in gilt.Exceptionally rare first edition in a mid 1840s binding of this high-spot in Children's Literature, of which very rarely do any copies appear on the market for sale. This copy was unknown when surviving first editions were recorded for Nonsensus (1988) which sites just eleven complete copies and twelve incomplete, more than half preserved in institutional libraries. In this, the original first edition of A Book of Nonsense, "Lear has hand-drawn all of the illustrations and lettered each verse caption on lithographic stone, only the [two] title-page vignette[s] (type-set) and three others (Wrecken, Cadiz and Kildaire) are written out in the familiar 5-line format and set in capitals; all the others are captioned in 3 elongated lines (they became 5 lines in the 1855 second edition). This [first edition] contains the three limericks which were later suppressed: Compton, Kildaire, and New York. (Justin Schiller. Edward Lear. Catalogue 48 (1996))."Lear did not invent the limerick, a verse-form whose origins are lost in the mists of folklore. The earliest published limericks had appeared in The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women? Exhibiting Their Principal Eccentricities and Amusements (London: J. Harris, (1820) and two companion volumes, Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentlemen and A Peep at the Geography of Europe (both London: E. Marshall, ca 1821-24). There is no evidence that Lear knew either the first or third works cited, though a limerick in the former recounts an old woman named Towl who went to sea with her owl which in the hand-coloured engraving has them in a pea-green boat not dissimilar to the "Owl and Pussycat". The second work sandwiched between them (Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentlemen) Lear knew, and amplifies two of its limericks with his own nonsense drawings in the earliest of his recorded manuscripts?He [Lear] tells us that "in days when much of my time was passed in a country house, where children and mirth abounded, the lines beginning 'There was an Old Man of Tobago,' were suggested to me by a valued friend, as a form of verse lending itself to limitless variety for Rhymes and Pictures; and thenceforth the greater part of the original drawings and verses for the first Book of Nonsense were struck off with a pen, no assistance ever having been given me in any way but that of uproarious delight and welcome at the appearance of every new absurdity."The country house was Knowlsley near Liverpool, home of the Earls of Derby, where Lear was working as a natural history illustrator making drawings of the birds and animals in the menagerie which had been built up by Lord Stanley, later the 13th Earl. The atmosphere of jollity centred around the 12th Earl, of whom a contemporary wrote: "Dear old man! his joyous temperament, and his love of society and good cheer made his guests as happy and merry as himself. Bookseller Inventory #

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Title: Book of Nonsense, A.
Publisher: London: Thos. McLean, 1846

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Lear, Edward
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