And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.
– Edward Lear
February 10, 1846: British artist and writer Edward Lear published the first of his delightful
works of literary nonsense, A Book of Nonsense, 167 years ago today.
Edward Lear (12 May 1812 – 29 January 1888) was an English artist, illustrator, author and poet, and is now known mostly for his literary nonsense, in poetry and prose and especially his limericks, a form he popularised. From childhood he suffered ill health, including epilepsy (of which he was ashamed) and depression.
He travelled widely for much of his life, before settling in Sanremo. He never married, though he did propose it. Instead he suffered from an unreciprocated love affair with Franklin Lushington, who he had first met in Malta. He had many friends and a devoted pet cat. Yet when after a long decline in health, he died of heart disease, none of his friends were able to attend his funeral.