The absurd wit of Edward Lear has delighted readers for decades, but nestled amongst the Great Gramboolian Plains, Crumpetty Trees and Fimble Fowls of Lear’s poems are glimpses into the real-world experiences of the so called ‘Nonsense Laureate’.  

One of the liveliest figures in Victorian literature, Lear was a talented artist, illustrator, musician, author, poet and lifelong traveller. Despite finding widespread popularity in his native Britain, Lear spent much of his life abroad.

His vivid and imaginative observations of his adventures overseas colour his work, but also reveal glimpses of a perpetual melancholy. This sadness was perhaps driven by his ongoing struggles with mental and physical health, and unrealised identity as a gay man.

The characters in Lear’s poems too are often wayfarers, setting sail in sieves, voyaging to fantastic lands and searching for lost loves. Through examining Lear’s life of abandonment, wandering and unrequited love, is there sense to be found in his seemingly fanciful worlds?  

Join Poet in the City for a night of poetry and discussion as we celebrate and explore the poetry of Edward Lear, hearing from contemporary poets and writers inspired by the lasting legacy of his sparkling wit and absurd imagination.
Featuring Michael Rosen, Sara Lodge and others to be announced!

Sara Lodge
Sara Lodge is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of St Andrews, specializing in nineteenth-century literature and culture. She has studied Edward Lear’s diaries, letters, poems, and paintings for over a decade. Her book, Inventing Edward Lear (Harvard University Press, 2018) explores Lear’s sound-world and the music he wrote, as well as his non-conformist religious views, his contributions to natural history, and his self-elected membership of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. It was a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2019 and has been described by critics as ‘the only indispensable book for understanding Lear’ and ‘setting the standard for all future work’. Sara has appeared on BBC Radio 3 with a series of ‘The Essay’ on Lear and recently anchored a documentary for RTE Lyric FM on Lear’s Irish journeys.

Michael Rosen
Michael Rosen is one of Britain’s best loved writers and performance poets for children and adults. His first degree in English Literature and Language was from Wadham College, Oxford and he went on to study for an MA at the University of Reading and a PhD at the former University of North London, now London Metropolitan. He is currently Professor of Children’s Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London where he co-devised and teaches critical approaches to reading on an MA in Children’s Literature, having done the same at Birkbeck, University of London. He has taught on MA courses in universities since 1994. He was the Children’s Laureate from 2007-2009 and has published over 200 books for children and adults, including the recent bestseller ‘Many Different Kinds of Love’ and ‘On The Move.’