The Little Birds Fly

Down to the Calico Sea

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From ging-e-jonga to the Quangle Wangle Quee: the animal world of Edward Lear

Lear was spending most of his days at the zoo, a haven after an uncertain childhood and youth. Born in Holloway in 1812, he was the 16th of 17 children of a London stockbroker (he liked to say the 20th of 21, which seemed more poetic). A frail, short-sighted child, he had bronchitis and asthma, and was also epileptic, something he kept hidden all his life. When he was four, a financial crash ruined his father, and his weary mother turned him over to his older sister Ann: he never forgave this maternal rejection. Ten years later, he and Ann took rooms in Gray’s Inn Road, and he saw himself as someone who “at the age of 14 & a half, was turned out into the world, literally without a farthing – & with nought to look to for a living but his own exertions”. He made money by selling sketches in inn yards, colouring prints and fans, and making “morbid disease drawings” for doctors. Then a well-off connection won him permission to sketch in the zoo – a rare privilege, as other artists were denied entry.

Full The Guardian Article HERE

I am a big fan of Edward Lear - my first auditory memory was hearing Lear's Calico Pie - hence my moniker.


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