A scrupulously forensic literary appreciation of Edward Lear and his ‘nonsenses’ by one of our most cherished historians – without losing any sense of fun.
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A Daily Telegraph, Times, Evening Standard, TLS and Spectator Book of the Year.
Winner of the Hawthornden Prize.
Edward Lear is well-loved for his ‘nonsenses’, from joyous limericks to great love songs, and for his wonderful natural history paintings, landscapes and travel writing. But although Lear belongs to the age of Darwin and Dickens, his genius for the absurd and his dazzling word-play make him a very modern spirit. He was also a man of great simplicity and charm – children loved him – yet his humour masked epilepsy, depression and loneliness. Jenny Uglow’s beautifully illustrated biography brings us his swooping moods, passionate friendships and restless travels. Above all it shows how this uniquely gifted man lived all his life on the boundaries of disciplines and desires – an exile of the heart.
‘Jenny Uglow, Edward Lear’s most sensitive biographer to date, does him proud … a psychologically brilliant portrait … wonderfully rich.’
Jenny Uglow has written a great life about an artist with half a life, a biography that might break your heart.
‘Generously illustrated with fine reproductions of Lear’s art, [Uglow’s] book is an outstandingly elegant and perceptive account of a complex, wounded man.’
‘The most perfect historian imaginable.’
‘Whatever Uglow writes about she makes absolutely fascinating.’
‘Crammed with Lear’s delicate drawings and paintings, this must be one of the most beautifully produced books of the year.'
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