Compiling a list of Edward Lear manuscripts is not easy, here is a partial one that I’ll try to update regularly.

The University of Manchester Library, U.K.

Rylands Collection English MS 1313
Alphabet Book, made for the children of the family at Tabley House in Cheshire, England.

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Frederick R. Koch Collection. GEN MSS 601.
Includes correspondence (Mary Nicholl Wyatt, Laura Campbell, and various others) with pictures, several limerick drawings and proofs, and picture stories, among them the unpublished A Walk on a Windy Day, Romulus and Remus, The Lost Hat.
Yale University Library finding aid.

General Collection Manuscript Miscellany. GEN MSS MISC.
Sketches for the Book of Nonsense, Lear’s own version of “The Nervous Family” song (1, 2), and correspondence, including letters to John Ruskin and one to Mrs. Ker with nine nonsense flowers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
Yale University Library finding aid.

Burney-Lear Drawings. OSB MSS fd 59.
Includes “a group of large unmounted drawings, approximately 45 of which are by Edward Lear.” Images.
Yale University Library finding aid.

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Edward Lear Collection
The Edward Lear collection includes manuscripts and letters. One of his better-known works, Book of Nonsensepublished in 1846, includes the poem, “There was an old man of Narkunder.” A handwritten manuscript of this poem can be found in this collection. Letters to William Holman Hunt, Henry Richards Luard, and others are present. Several of the letters include ink sketches by Lear.
List of items.

Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University

Edward Lear Miscellaneous Correspondence. MS Eng 797.
Oasis finding aid.

Edward Lear Diaries 1858-1888. MS Eng 797.3.
Diary entries by Edward Lear from 1858 until 1887, shortly before his death. The entries frequently discuss his paintings, as well as his health problems and depression. Lear’s primary residence was in England through 1870, when he settled in San Remo, Italy. He also traveled extensively, and usually took at least one long trip each year, often in search of new artistic material. These diaries describe travels in Egypt, England, France, Greece, India, Italy, Lebanon, and Switzerland, among other places.
Oasis finding aid, with links to page scans of each volume.

Edward Lear Studies of palm trees. 1876. TypDr 805.L513.76p (1-8).
Online facsimile.

Diary: Manuscript, 1864 4 Apr. – 4 May. MS Typ 55.24.
Autograph diary kept by Lear in Crete.
Online facsimile.

Indian Journals, 1875-1878. MS Eng 797.4.
2 v. (340, 315 leaves) ; 33 cm. Describes Lear’s tour of India 24 Oct. 1875-29 Jan. 1878.
Online facsimile.

Edward Lear drawings for An original nonsense alphabet made for Miss Lushington, ca. 1865. MS Typ 55.3.
Online facsimile.

Depictions of birds, plants, and insects. 1828-1836. MS Typ 55.4.
A scrapbook containing 80 drawings and watercolours by Edward Lear and his sister Ann.
Online facsimile.

Edward Lear drawings of Central India, 1875. MS Typ 55.5.
49 original landscape drawings on 31 mounts (31 sheets), in watercolor, pen and graphite. From Lord Northbrook’s collection, volume 2 only; inside front cover includes bookplate of Lord Northbrook (Thomas George Baring, Earl of Northbrook (1826-1904)). Title on cover: Vol. II. Central India 1875. Lord Northbrook; volume lacks a titlepage.
Online facsimile.

Illustrations of Miss Maniac. MS Typ 55.6.
A verse narrative, incomplete, on 43 numbered leaves 12 x 9 cm., mounted 2 to a leaf on the rectos only. All but 9 of the leaves have drawings.
Online facsimile.

Illustrations to the poems of Tennyson. MS Typ 55.7.
199 drawings. Sepia wash and china white.
Online samples.

Sketches of the psittacidae,1832. MS Typ 55.8.
Nine of the drawings were published in Lear’s Illustrations of the psittacidae; two are unpublished.
Online facsimile.

Edward Lear sketches of parrots relating to Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae, or parrots (1832). MS Typ 55.9.
Collection primarily consists of sketches and drawings of parrots, in ink, graphite, and watercolor, but also includes some lithographs (many hand-colored). Many items include autograph manuscript annotations and notes by Lear and color samples. Also includes a paper wrapper and printed title page. Images used in Lear’s: Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae, or parrots, 1832.
Oasis finding aid, with links to facsimiles.

Edward Lear drawings of animals and birds, ca. 1831-1836. MS Typ 55.12.
An album (61 x 41 cm.) of 60 drawings in ink, graphite, Chinese white, wash, and watercolor on paper. Also includes color samples, autograph manuscript notes by Lear, sketches, and a few lithographs. Album is in a red cloth box.
Oasis finding aid. Online facsimile.

Edward Lear drawings of landscapes, animals, and birds, ca. 1849-1855. MS Typ 55.13.
An album (46 x 61 cm.) of 54 drawings on paper in pen, ink, watercolor, gouche, graphite, and Chinese white. Also includes color samples, autograph manuscript notes by Lear, sketches, and a few lithographs. Album inscribed: “Cecilia Lushington from Mr. Lear, May 25th 1855.” Album bound in marbled boards, vellum spine and corners; in red cloth box.
Oasis Finding Aid. Online facsimile.

Edward Lear miscellaneous drawings, 1849-1866. MS Typ 55.14.
Includes Lear’s nonsense drawings, autograph manuscript drafts of the nonsense poems and nonsense alphabet, drawings with verse, and proofs for The nonsense alphabet and other works. Also includes a few landscape drawings, a portrait of an unidentified man, self-portraits, and a portrait photograph of Lear, among other items.
Oasis finding aid, with links to facsimiles.

Alphabet no. 6 : manuscript, undated. MS Typ 55.15.
For each letter there is a 4-line verse. A begins “Appaty, Bappaty, Appaty A /Two nice apples for me to day.” In the right margin there is a sketch, of 2 apples for A.
Incomplete: the letters Q to Z are initials only.
Online facsimile.

The cummerbund: an Indian poem. MS Typ 55.16.
Autograph manuscript in black ink. A note at the end including a glossary is crossed out.
Online facsimile.

[Pig confronting ‘corcadill’]. [18–]. MS Typ 55.18.
Actually contains a caricature self-portrait.
Online facsimile.

[‘Piggie’ confronting ‘corcadill’]. [18–]. MS Typ 55.19.
The real thing. With a slip reading: “Might you not bring back a small Corcadill for Piggie to play with on the Lawn at Stratton: –only he.” Part of a letter.
The back has a small picture of a hunter confronting and animal, the “Corcadill”?
Online facsimile.

Self-portraits. 18–. MS Typ 55.20.
Two drawings; presumably part of a picture story. Undated
Online facsimile.

Some incidents in the life of my uncle Arly. MS Typ 55.22.
Autograph fair-copy manuscript of a poem in 7 verses, with original postmarked envelope addressed to Wilkie Collins. Dated “Villa Tennyson, Sanremo, 7 March 1886.”
Online facsimile.

Edward Lear album of drawings, [ca. 1830]. MS Typ 55.27.
1 volume (62 leaves) : graphite, pen-and-wash, and watercolor on Whatman wove paper ; 25 centimeters + clippings laid in. More than 70 drawings and watercolors, chiefly botanical and natural history subjects, with a few topographical views and figure studies, probably by more than one hand. Also contains 17 small engravings.
Online facsimile.

Edward Lear studio watercolors, 1848-1884. MS Typ 55.28, TypDr 805.L513.
37 original watercolor drawings of landscapes based on Lear’s travels. Includes views of Italy, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Egypt, Israel, Crete, Montenegro, France, India, and Ceylon. Some include autograph manuscript annotations by Lear.
OASIS finding aid.

Letters to the Earl of Northbrook, 1876-1887. MS Typ 781.
7 letters: 1. 1 June 1876 — 2. 19 June 1876 — 3. 12 Nov. 1877 — 4. 29 Nov. 1877 — 5. 19 Aug. 1883 — 6. 27 Apr. 1884 — 7. 12 May 1887. All are from Sanremo except no. 5 which is from Abetone. All the letters are in Lear’s hand and signed. Letters 4 and 5 have illustrations.

Letters to Maria G. M. Grant, 1883-1885. MS Eng 937.
Includes a set of wood engravings by Lear of Corsican views, a photograph of Villa Brigida, and several letters to Maria GM Grant and Violet Grant. The letters concern Lear’s health, his travels in Italy, the deaths of several people close to Lear, and Lear’s inquiries after the Grant family. One letter also includes a sketch by Lear of the birds outside his window.
OASIS finding aid.

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Nonsense Book.
Eight humorous drawings of a friend’s guest-chamber, laid down on the pages of a blue covered book. Description. Published in 1972 as The Long Nite in ye Woderfull Bedde.

Yale Center for British Art

Alphabet, 1857. Folio A 2010 52.
An unpublished alphabet. “Autograph manuscript alphabet, with original drawings, by Edward Lear, 1857. A hand-written label affixed to the verso of leaf ‘Z’ notes: ‘Alphabet, written & illustrated by Edward Lear for Winifred Williams & Barrington Crake.'”
Full record.

Edward Lear Archive. MSS 59.
The Yale Center for British Art has long been known for having the second largest collection of Lear drawings in the world, after the Houghton Library at Harvard. Most of these, and some oil paintings, came as a gift from an American, Donald Gallup, who had acquired them cheaply in London after the Second World War. The YCBA website provides good images and description of all these works.
What is probably less well known is the Center’s Edward Lear Archive. It contains some ten Lear letters to Ann Lear and others. It also contains many lists of drawings in Lear’s own hand and also in the writing of his executor Franklin Lushington which have recently come to light and been catalogued.
The site does not reproduce these. It paraphrases the letters, and gives basic information on the contents of each drawings list. The hope I am told is to digitise these in due course. For researchers on Lear’s journeys, the material is invaluable as numbered drawings are listed for fifteen of Lear’s main journeys.
There are further lists by Lear of watercolours and oils he had retained and was still selling in the 1880s, almost up to his death in 1888. The Lushington lists were clearly made from the stocks of drawings Lear sent to him in that decade and left to him on his death. These will be the many Lear drawings which came on to the market in 1929 when Lushington’s daughter disposed of them to the dealer, Craddock and Barnard.
(Stephen Duckworth)
Full record. PDF Guide.

Getty Research Institute

Edward Lear letters sent, 1868-[1870].
The collection comprises three letters by Edward Lear. One, in Italian, was sent to an acquaintance in Brindisi, asking him to provide the best accommodations in his albergo to friends on their way to Corfu (1868 Feb. 28, Cannes). The artist thanks a gentleman for purchasing his picture “Kasr es Saad” from the Royal Academy exhibit, and gives him the name and address of his banker for the payment, and that of the shipping company. He mentions a companion piece sent to the Academy representing another view of the Nile, which might interest his patron (1870 May 16, Cannes). In a short note, he asks Mrs. Wickham at Portland Place to introduce to “the world of Hampshire” his new book about the “scenery of Corsica,” to be published soon [1870].
Full record.

William Holman Hunt personal and family papers, ca. 1833-1930.
“Eleven letters (several illustrated) are from Edward Lear (1856-1886). Most are from Italy, with Lear referring to Hunt, his former teacher, as “Daddy.” Lear discusses Hunt’s choice of subject matter (1869); Hunt’s relationship with Rossetti (1882); and the reasons behind the lack of public interest in art (1885).”
Full record.

5 Responses to Manuscripts

  1. Pingback: More Edward Lear Manuscripts from Houghton | A Blog of Bosh

  2. Peter Byrne says:

    As always, very helpful.

  3. Pingback: Mr Lear Recovers his Hat | A Blog of Bosh

  4. Pingback: New Edward Lear Manuscripts from Houghton Library | A Blog of Bosh

  5. Pingback: Edward Lear Works in Public Collections | A Blog of Bosh

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