Lot 157*
Sold for £600 (US$ 1,003) inc. premium
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Autograph letter signed ("Edward Lear"), to "Dear Sir", thanking him for his "Book of Bosh" and "for your Dedication of it to me the Father of Nonsense" ("...I have not time to look at it much just now, but I thought at a glance, the two Ladies going down into the Cellar very funny..."), 2 pages, integral blank, light dust-staining, 8vo, 8 Duchess Street, Portland Square, 25 June 1877


  • EDWARD LEAR ACKNOWLEDGES A TRIBUTE TO HIMSELF AS 'THE FATHER OF NONSENSE'. Lear's primary occupation was of course as an artist, which is (ironically given the context) reflected in the docket to the present letter: "Lear, the Artist/ about 'Bosh'". Nevertheless, his standing as a writer of nonsense meant a great deal to him: "in February 1886 came praise which lit up his bleak and lonely life, for John Ruskin wrote: 'I really don't know any author to whom I am half so grateful, for my idle self, as Edward Lear. I shall place him first of my hundred authors'...His young San Remo neighbour, Hubert Congreve, later wrote: 'I never knew him repeat any story telling against his Nonsense, and Ruskin's praise was very dear to him'" (Vivien Noakes, ODNB). Our letter was written six months after publication of what would turn out to be his last book of nonsense, the Laughable Lyrics of 1877. The Book of Bosh was, unfortunately, published anonymously, so provides little clue as to the identity of the letter's recipient. It is billed as containing 'Amusing and Instructive Stories in Rhyme' and is illustrated by drawings more in the style of Struwwelpeter than Lear. A second edition was published by Simkin, Marshall, Hamilton & Kent at some time in the 1890s. (Confusingly, the title was to be resurrected in 1975 for an anthology of Lear's lyrics and prose).
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