The Edward Lear 2012 Celebrations

The following is a list of events celebrating the Edward Lear bicentenary in 2012.

  • Monday, 30 January 2012, 5.30 pm: Stephen Duckworth, who has recently published an article on the subject, will give a lecture on Edward Lear and His Cretan Drawings. King’s College, London: Modern Greek Seminars.
  • Monday, 30 January 2012, 5.15 pm: James Williams, Brasenose and Jesus Colleges: Edward Lear’s Origins lecture, Oxford Children’s Literature and Youth Culture Colloquium, Seminar Room A, English Faculty Building. Directions & map.
    Abstract: Lear was a writer of and for children, people at the beginning of their life: he is also considered, rightly or wrongly, as a starting-point, the originating ‘Father of Nonsense’. This paper considers Lear’s concern with origins (both a private fascination and a Victorian cultural obsession): where we come from, how we begin to speak, how to make new starts. It also gives some thought to the origins, and originality, of his nonsense, in the context of a Romantic inheritance of writing about children.
  • 24-26 February 2012: The Owl + the Pussycat, at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. For children aged 3-7. Book tickets.
  • 1 February ― 29 May 2012: ‘How Pleasant to Know Mr Lear!’  Edward Lear, Tennyson Family Friend, Lincoln Central Library. Free admission. List of works on display.
  • 16 March ― 28 April 2012: Edward Lear’s Birds from John Gould’s Birds of Europe, an exhibition at Joel Oppenheimer Inc., Wrigley Building, 410  North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Also in Charleston, at The Audubon Gallery, from 25 May ― 30 June 2012. Invitation.
  • 23 March 2012, 8.30 pm: Mister Lear’s “The Nervous Family Tour,” Theatre de la Reine Blanche, 2 passage Ruelle, 75018 Paris. Poster.
  • Tuesday, 20 March 2012, BBC Radio 4, 4 pm: Word of Mouth, “Festival of Nonsense” program; to be repeated on 26 March at 11 pm. See comments for more information from Michael Rosen.
  • 21 March ― 3 June 2012: Nonsense: Spielarten einer merkwürdigen Literaturgattung (Nonsense: Varieties of a Remarkable Literary Genre), exhibition at Museum Strauhof, Zürich. Starting from Edward Lear’s A Book of Nonsense, the exhibition includes Lewis Carroll, Christian Morgenstern and other modern German-language nonsense writers. Official page in German & Google-translated in English.
  • 2 April ― 18 August 2012: The Natural History of Edward Lear, an exhibition curated by Robert McCracken Peck, Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Edison and Newman Room, Houghton Library, Harvard University. Opening hours.
  • Thursday 5 April 2012, 5.30 pm: Frances and Philip Hofer Lecture, The Remarkable Nature of Edward Lear, an illustrated lecture on Lear’s natural history paintings by Robert McCracken Peck. Harvard. In the Forum Room  of the Lamont Library. This will be followed by a reception at Houghton Library.
  • 5 ― 18 April 2012: Tales from a pea green boat: An exhibition of illustrations celebrating Edward Lear at Le Garage, 115 Dulwich Rd, SE24 0NG.
  • 14 April ― 30 September 2012: ‘Too vainy and bumptious’?  The story of Edward Lear’s Illustrations of Tennyson’s Poetry. The Collection, Lincoln.
  • 27 April ― 25 May 2012: Wordscapes/Parolaesaggi, Text from the Landscapes of Edward Lear. This exhibition is an installation of 10 artist’s books by Angela Lorenz (USA) based on watercolor landscape paintings by the artist and poet Edward Lear housed in Houghton Library, Harvard University. SG Gallery, Scuola Internazionale di Grafica, Cannaregio 1798 | 30121, Venezia | TEL. 041 721.950. See comments below for more.
  • From 28 April: The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, will have a small display (watercolours and William Homan Hunt’s portrait of Lear), and an extended web feature, to celebrate Edward Lear’s bicentenary. From the collections of National Museums Liverpool. More info as it comes.
  • From 30 April to 4 May 2012, at 10.45 pm, BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting a series of essays celebrating Edward Lear’s bicentenary. The essayists include Sara Lodge, Matthew Bevis and Ralph Steadman, who has drawn a wonderful nonsense bird – the long-lashed, three-booted wheedle-nittle – for the occasion. See comments to this post.
  • Monday 7 May ― Friday 8 June at The Poetry Café at 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden WC2H 9BX, 45 illustrators are showing images they have made from Edward Lear’s poetry. For opening times see here or phone 0207-420 9880.
  • 10 May 2012: “How Pleasant to Know Mr Lear” written and presented by Nicholas Parsons. Nicholas presents a portrait of the nonsensical genius, Edward Lear conveying a rounded picture of the man’s amazing life and unusual personality. Knowsley Hall, £75, which includes canapés and champagne on arrival 3 course meal and half bottle of wine per person. Tel: 0151 489 4827 to book.
  • 9 ― 29 May 2012: Edward Lear Ornithological lithographs. Henry Sotheran Print Gallery, 2 Sackville Street, Piccadilly, London, W1S 3DP. Private View: Wednesday 9th May 2012 (RSVP) 6:00-8:00 pm. Guest speaker: Dr Clemency Fisher, Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at National Museums Liverpool.
  • Friday, 11th May, 1 pm, Conference Centre, the British Library:  Edward Lear: Zoology, Landscape, Nonsense and – Epilepsy?. In an illustrated survey of Lear’s life, Charles Lewsen will quote diary evidence of Lear’s seizures and, with images from landscape paintings and manuscript Nonsense, will indicate the impact on Lear’s life and work of a condition that he was at pains to keep secret. He will also show images from an unpublished album of flower paintings that establish Sarah, the second oldest of Lear’s sisters, as a vital influence on his development as an artist. Admission free.
  • 11 ― 20 May: Derbyshire Literature Festival, featuring a Nonsense Poetry & Flash Fiction Competion to celebrate Edward Lear’s bicentenary.
  • Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education is organizing a weekend course on Nonsense literature, covering all aspects from the origins of the nursery rhymes to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, on 11-13 May and the programme looks very interesting. Of course a lecture is devoted to Edward Lear’s life and work. Places are still available and you can download Course Material and an Application Form.

Saturday, 12 May 2012
Edward Lear’s 200th Birthday

  • At 11.30 am, a Westminster City Council Green Plaque will be unveiled at 15 Stratford Place, London W.1, the site of the house that was Edward Lear’s London base in the 1860s. Stratford Place is on the north side of Oxford Street, opposite the entrances to Bond Street underground station.
    1 pm, a few short speeches about Lear and to acknowledge the late Vivien Noakes’ contribution to Lear studies at The Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street, London W.1 where, from 10 am to 5 pm works by Lear will be on display, as will books and exhibition catalogues. Download the invitation.
    At 3.30 pm there will be a ceremony in Poets Corner at Westminster Abbey, at which readers will include Roger McGough, President of the Poetry Society. Please go to the Great West Doors of the Abbey (by the bookshop) no later than 3.20 pm and inform the marshals that you are attending the Lear ceremony.
  • Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK: International Owl and Pussycat Day to celebrate Edward Lear’s 200th birthday. Write your own limericks, have a go at making your own beard and create your own utterly nonsensical botanical plants. Normal zoo entry costs and opening times apply ― see website for details. Also visit the official blog, Teaching Nonsense in Schools.
  • Come along to our Nonsense Day on Saturday 12th May. Follow a nonsense trail which is based on limericks from Lear’s ‘Nonsense Alphabets’ and take part in some nonsense activities. Try your hand at writing limericks or making up some nonsense botany. Activities in Rainforest Room, Education Centre from 11am to 3.30pm. Normal zoo admission applies. Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Road, EH12 6TS Edinburgh. Web, Facebook.
  • 12-13 May 2012: The Oxford English Dictionary “Word of the Day” posts will feature Edward Lear words. Twitter.

  • Sunday 13 May 14.30 – 16.00, Nonsense! The Wonderful World of Edward Lear, The Conference Centre, the British Library. The Jumblies, the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo, The Dong with the Luminous Nose and of course The Owl and The Pussycat, are just a few of the fabulous nonsense poems of the remarkable Edward Lear, who was born 200 years ago. Join wonderfully entertaining poets Michael Rosen and Roger McGough, plus special guests, for this glorious celebration of one of our best loved writers.
  • To celebrate the Bi-centenary of the birth of Edward Lear, a small selection of his drawings and watercolours from the British Museum collection will be on display in the Prints and Drawings Gallery, Room 90, from May 14th.
  • 25 May ― 31 August 2012: Edward Lear and the Ionian Islands. Exhibition at the Palace of St Michael and St George, Kerkyra Town, Corfu.  The exhibition of oil paintings, watercolours, drawings and engravings will be curated by Despina Zernioti. Official site.
  • 29 May 2012: Celebration of Edward Lear in Islington, the borough he was born in, with Michael Rosen.
  • 30 May 2012, 12.30: Jennifer Melville, Lead Curator at the Aberdeen Art Gallery, will be giving a lunchtime talk on Lear’s Bocche di Cattaro (1866). Aberdeen Art Gallery, Schoolhill, ABERDEEN, AB10 1FQ; tel: 00 44 (0)1224 523703; fax: 00 44 (0)1224 632133. Facebook & Twitter.
  • Friday, 15 June 2012, 7.30 pm: Edward Lear: Zoology, Landscape, Nonsense and – Epilepsy?. As at the British Library, Charles Lewsen will present an illustrated survey of Lear’s life, with diary evidence of seizures, and images from landscape paintings and Nonsense that indicate the impact on Lear’s life and work of the epilepsy that he was at pains to keep secret. He will also show images from an unpublished album of flower paintings that establish Sarah, the second oldest of Lear’s sisters, as a vital influence on his development as an artist. The Bridge Foundation for Psychotherapy and the Arts, Bristol, phone 0117-942 4510. £10.00, advance booking required.
  • 21 June 2012, 7-8 pm: Edward Lear in Liverpool. To celebrate the bicentenary of Lear’s birth, Dr Clemency Fisher from National Museums Liverpool explores Lear’s time working as an artist for the 13th Earl of Derby at Knowsley Hall, painting individuals in the huge Knowsley Aviary and Menagerie, and why he became a much-loved member of the Earl’s household. The Natural History Museum at Tring, Akeman Street, Tring, Herts, HP23 6AP.
  • 23 June ― 8 September 2012, Falmouth Art Gallery, Cornwall, UK: the Soaring Spirits exhibition will feature works by Edward Lear. More Lear events planned at this family friendly and free gallery.
  • 29 August ― 26 October 2012Edward Lear and the Scientists, exhibition at the Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG. Further details:
  • Friday 14 September 2012 ― Sunday 19 May 2013: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Grisogorious Places: Edward Lear’s Travels exhibition.
  • Thursday 20 September 2012, 2-3.30 pm, Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum: Dear for his many gifts to many souls’: Edward Lear, artist and writer, with Colin Harrison, Senior Curator of European Art.
  • 20 September 2012 ― 6 January 2013: The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, will put on a display of its Edward Lear Collection. Details. There will also be a series of lectures about Lear: those for September are listed here.
  • 21-22 September 2012, Jesus College, Oxford: Edward Lear: the Bicentennial Conference. The first conference ever on the works of Lear. Official site.
    Speakers: Anna Barton, Gillian Beer, Matthew Bevis, Aingeal Clare, Richard Cronin, Christopher Decker, Hugh Haughton, Daniel Karlin, Robert M. Peck, Adam Phillips, Seamus Perry, Peter Robinson, Anne Stillman, Peter Swaab, James Williams (one other TBC). Running order (pdf).
  • Monday 24 September 2012, 7 pm, in Hall One at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG: Edward Lear at 200, with Michael Rosen, James Williams, Anna Barton and Charles Lewsen. Poet in the City invites you to come and celebrate the genius and imagination of artist, author and poet Edward Lear. Famed for his nonsense poetry, prose and limericks, Lear continues to inspire and delight us with words and images that go far beyond the ordinary. Brochure.
  • Tuesday 25 September 2012, 2-3.30 pm, Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum: Edward Lear Natural History Painter, with Robert McCracken Peck, Curator of Art and Artefacts, Academy of Natural Sciences, University of Drexel.
  • Thursday 27 September 2012, 4.45-5.45 pm, Gallery 21, Ashmolean Museum: Nonsense in the Print Room: comic art from Edward Lear to Posy Simmonds, with Dr Caroline Palmer, Acting Print Room Supervisor.
  • Thursday 27 September 2012, 6 pm: At an evening meeting of the Linnean Society of London and the Society for the History of Natural History: Robert McCracken Peck on The Remarkable Nature of Edward Lear. The Linnean Society of London, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BF. Page.
  • 29 August ― 26 October 2012Edward Lear and the Scientists, exhibition at the Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG. Further details:
  • Friday 14 September 2012 ― Sunday 19 May 2013: Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Grisogorious Places: Edward Lear’s Travels exhibition.
  • 20 September 2012 ― 6 January 2013: The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, will put on a display of its Edward Lear Collection. Details. There will also be a series of lectures about Lear: those for September are listed here.
  • 12 October ― 17 November 2012: Happy Birthday Edward Lear, at The Concourse Gallery, Michael Andrews Building, Southampton Solent University, SO14 0YN.
  • Sunday 14 October, 4.30 pm: Edward Lear will be featured on Radio 4’s Poetry Please. The programme will be repeated on Saturday 20 October and will be available via iPlayer on the RAdio 4 website.
  • Wednesday 31 October 2012, 2-3 pm: Edward Lear and his Cretan Drawings, with Stephen Duckworth. Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
  • Thursday, 1 November 2012, 6 pm.  Edward Lear’s Lines of Flight, the 2012 British Academy Chatterton Lecture on Poetry by Dr. Matthew Bevis of Keble College, Oxford who will talk about Lear’s paintings as well as his poetry. The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH, phone: 0207-969 5200. Page.
  • Wednesday, 7 November 2012: The Nonsense Songs Of Edward Lear – A Song-Cycle By David Lawrence. The first performance of this work, composed to mark the 200th anniversary of Lear’s birth, is to take place in Cork, Republic of Ireland, on Wednesday November 7th. It will be performed by Eoghan Desmond (Baritone) and Colin Nicholls (Piano). Further details can be obtained from: David Lawrence, telephone 0044-1544-370330 (UK) or from Kay Desmond, telephone 00353-21487-5310 or 00353-86607-3645 (Ireland).
    The work, which is about 90 minutes long, consists of settings of:
    How Pleasant to Know My Lear
    The Nutcrackers and the Sugar-Tongs
    The Jumblies
    The Pelican Chorus
    The Pobble who has No Toes
    The Quangle-Wangle’s Hat
    The New Vestments
    Mr and Mrs Discobbolos (Parts 1 & 2)
    The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo
    Incidents in the Life of Mr Uncle Arly.

  • Friday 9 November 2012Amblongus Pie: Dance, Music, Verse, and Song will include a contemporary musical setting and reading of Edward Lear’s “Nonsense Cookery” in honor of Lear’s 200th birthday. Julia Bentley, a Chicago based mezzo-soprano, accompanied by pianist Kuang-Hao Huang, along with members of the Lehrer Dance Company, will be performing. Dr. Ann C. Colley, SUNY Distinguished Professor, is literary advisor to the event. The concert will take place in the Peter & Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium in the Burchfield Penney Art Centre in Buffalo, New York.
  • Wednesday 14 November 2012, 2-3.30 pm: Edward Lear: Zoology, Landscape, Nonsense and the Demon of Epilepsy, with Charles Lewsen. Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
  • Friday 23 November 2012, 2-3 pm: Letters from the Lake DistrictCharles Nugent talks about two newly discovered letters written by Lear in the Lake District and how they shed light on his first major sketching tour. Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
  • Tuesday 4 December 2012, 2-3 pm: Pyramids, Philae and Petra: Edward Lear’s Travels in the Near East, with Briony Llewelyn. Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
  • 10 December 2012, 9.30: Charles Lewsen will be speaking to the Bristol Medical History Society about Edward Lear’s Epilepsy. The John Zorab Lecture Theatre, the Medical Education Centre, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol.
  • Friday 14 December 2012, 5-7.30 pm: In Conversation: Michael Rosen and Colin Harrison; the Story Museum’s Curator of Stories talks to Colin Harrison about the two sides of Lear’s art – his accomplished paintings of flora and fauna, and the nonsense sketches which accompanied his verses. The Story Museum, Oxford.

Please visit the Facebook page, and don’t forget to check my Edward Lear’s Diaries blog, which will keep posting Lear’s journal entries right up to his fiftieth birthday.

2 Responses to The Edward Lear 2012 Celebrations

  1. Pingback: Forthcoming Bicentenary Events | A Blog of Bosh

  2. Pingback: A New Edward Lear Exhibition | A Blog of Bosh

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