Edward Lear’s diaries have been used by all major biographers and extracts have been published in books about particular locations, most notably by Philip Sherrard for Corfu and Rowena Fowler for Malta. Except for the Indian Journal, published by Ray Murphy 1953, no one has published long sequences in full, which is not surprising, given their sometimes repetitive nature, due to Lear’s punctiliousness in recording the weather, breakfasts and Greek lessons.
The diaries, however, also preserve Lear’s moods and working habits and are indispensable to date his artistic output; they also provide interesting information on places and travelling habits in the second half of the 19th century. And, of course, they record the day-to-day life of one of the great humorists of the Victorian age; a man who, as his lifelong friend Franklin Lushington wrote after his death, deserved “love for his goodness of heart & determination to do right.”
Coming to the point, I have started a new blog devoted to the diaries which will post transcripts of all the entries from 1 January 1858 to 12 May 1862, Lear’s fiftieth birthday. The original idea was to publish each entry 150 years after it was written, but the delay I have accumulated forces me to post 1858 in instalments of about five entries a day until the end of the year. The first five are online now and regular posting will start on Tuesday, 7 October.
This is a long-term project which will come to an end on 12 May 2012 (the bicentenary of Edward Lear’s birth), but I promise I will be regular in my posting, something that cannot be said for the Blog of Bosh.