Edward Lear and Charles Kingsley

From Notes and Queries, n.s. 16.6 (Vol. 214), June 1969, pp. 216-217:

An Edward Lear Letter to Charles Kingsley

Apparently, Edward Lear and Charles Kingsley never became personally acquainted. No records are presently known to attest sucha relationship.

However, after the successful appearance in 1871 of Lear’s Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets, Kingsley (as did others) requested permission from the author to use quotations from the book. In response Lear wrote the following letter explaining the procedure for obtaining such approval, expressing praise for the works of Kingsley, and referring to a previous inability to take advantage of an opportunity for meeting the rector of Eversley.

Villa Emily.
San Remo, Italy.{1}
8 Novbr 1871

Dear Sir,

I have only this morning received your note, — though dated some time back, — and hasten to answer it. I am sorry I cannot do so exactly as I like. For, owing to a vast number of requests such as that you have sent me. I have been obliged to leave the arrangements of permissions &c entirely in my publisher’s hands, — and as he has already communicated three [sic for “these”?] to several persons, I may not even interfere with what has been settled. I have by this post written to Mr. Bush,{2} begging him to release this to you together with anotice of what he has written to others on the same subject.

Your kind remarks as to the pleasure my little book has given you delight me; I have often thought I should like to thank you for so much satisfaction given me by your many works — (perhaps above all — “Water Babies,” which I firmly believe to be all true,) and I ought to have done so at the Grenfells of Taplow{3} long ago — but I was not able to go there when asked to have the pleasure of meeting you. And I half feel that I am somewhat churlish in thus officially as it were turning you over to my publisher; only that (after a larger number of similar requests than you can imagine,) — I have declared I would abide sic his decisions.

Believe me,
Dear Sir,
Yours obliged and truly,
Edward Lear{4}

To the Rev. Charles Kingsley

Fred L. Standley.
Florida State University

{1} Lear’s newly constructed home; for details see Angus Davidson, Edward Lear: Landscape Painter and Nonsense Poet (New York, 1939), pp. 209-210.

{2} Robert John Bush, publisher of Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets (London, 1871).

{3} The family of Pascoe Grenfell, M.P., of Taplow Court, relatives of KIngsley’s wife, Francis Eliza.

{4} This autograph letter is in the Childhood in Poetry Collection of Robert Manning Strozier Library of Florida State University and is reprinted by permission of the Curator, John Mackay Shaw.


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