Mr Lear: A life of art and nonsense by Jenny Uglow

Reviewed by
March 2020, no. 419
James Antoniou reviews 'Mr Lear: A life of art and nonsense' by Jenny Uglow

Mr Lear: A life of art and nonsense

by Jenny Uglow

Faber, $49.99 hb, 560 pp

Mr Lear: A life of art and nonsense by Jenny Uglow

Reviewed by
March 2020, no. 419

It is no great coincidence that many of the best nonsense writers – Edward Lear, Mervyn Peake, Stevie Smith, Dr Seuss, Edward Gorey – were also prolific painters or illustrators. Nonsense poetry often seems like the fertile meeting point of visual and verbal languages, the place where words are stretched to dizzying new limits, used as wild brushstrokes on a canvas of imagination. It is no small irony, as well, that Lear, who virtually invented the genre with poems like ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, ‘wanted above all not to be loved for his nonsense but to be taken seriously as “Mr Lear the artist”’. In Mr Lear, a formidable biography by Jenny Uglow, he has finally got his wish.

James Antoniou reviews 'Mr Lear: A life of art and nonsense' by Jenny Uglow

Mr Lear: A life of art and nonsense

by Jenny Uglow

Faber, $49.99 hb, 560 pp

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