A number of early limerick books are now available for your online enjoyment, including the four published in the 1820s that inspired Edward Lear:
- The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women. Illustrated with as many engravings; exhibiting their principal eccentricities and amusements. Much credit is due to our artist, I ween; For such pictures as these can seldom be seen. London: J. Harris and Son, 1822. First edition 1820. [From the Hockliffe Collection website. Colour scans at the Edward Lear Home Page.]
- Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentlemen. London: John Marshall, c 1821. [Colour scans at the Edward Lear Home Page.]
- Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Young Ladies. By the Author of “Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Gentlemen.” London: E. Marshall, c1822. [From the Hockliffe Collection website.]
- A Peep at the Geography of Europe. Illustrated by Comic Figures of the Several Nations. London: E. Marshall, c1824. [Courtesy Arthur Deex.]
Also worth a look are: A Lady. Little Rhymes for Little Folks: or, Poetry for Fanny’s Library. London: John Harris, 1823 [Arthur Deex], which contains a few limericks; and Thomas Hood. The Headlong Career and Woful Ending of Precocious Piggy. London: Griffith and Farran, 1860 [University of Florida], in which the story is told in monorhyme limericks, every single line in the book rhyming with “pig”.
In addition, you can now read three early American books from Arthur’s collection:
- The New Book of Nonsense. A Contribution to the Great Central Fair in Aid of the Sanitary Commission. Philadelphia: Ashmead & Evans, 1864.
- Ye Book of Bubbles. A contribution to the New York Fair in aid of the Sanitary Commission. Endicott & Co., New York: March 1864.
- Ye Book of Sense. A Companion to the Book of Nonsense. Philadelphia: Porter and Coates, n.d. Title and thirty-one hand colored plates. Oblong 8vo. c1870.
Arthur has also provided two very beautiful limerick books from the 1900s:
- John Prentiss Benson. The Woozlebeasts. New York: Moffat, Yard & Co. 1905.
- Edmund Dulac. Lyrics Pathetic & Humorous from A to Z. London: Frederick Warne & Co., 1908.
Not enough? For some time our gallery has been hosting Bennet Cerf’s Pop-up Limericks (New York: Random House, n.d.).