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Mr Lear

Jenny Uglow

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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Date Published
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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.

Critic Reviews

‘Jenny Uglow, Edward Lear’s most sensitive biographer to date, does him proud … a psychologically brilliant portrait … wonderfully rich.’

A N Wilson, Literary Review
Critic Reviews

Jenny Uglow has written a great life about an artist with half a life, a biography that might break your heart.

Robert McCrum, Observer
Critic Reviews

‘Generously illustrated with fine reproductions of Lear’s art, [Uglow’s] book is an outstandingly elegant and perceptive account of a complex, wounded man.’

Jane Shilling, Evening Standard
Critic Reviews

‘The most perfect historian imaginable.’

Peter Ackroyd
Critic Reviews

‘Whatever Uglow writes about she makes absolutely fascinating.’

Diana Athill
Critic Reviews

‘Crammed with Lear’s delicate drawings and paintings, this must be one of the most beautifully produced books of the year.'

Suzi Feay, Financial Times

Jenny Uglow grew up in Cumbria and now lives in Canterbury. Her books include prize-winning biographies of Elizabeth Gaskell and William Hogarth. The Lunar Men, published in 2002, was described by Richard Holmes as ‘an extraordinarily gripping account’, while Nature’s Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick, won the National Arts Writers Award for 2007 and A Gambling Man: Charles II…

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