What delightful avian nonsense sprang from Edward Lear’s pen. Born in England in 1812, Lear earned his living as an artist beginning in his teens. His most famous work is “The Owl and the Pussycat.”
“Edward Lear’s Nonsense Birds” (Bodleian Library) is a collection of illustrations and verse from a number of his “Nonsense” titles, beginning with “A Book of Nonsense” in 1846. It is the birds that rule the roost in Lear’s world. They perch on the long nose of an Old Man and on the bonnet of a Young Lady. The Queer Querulous Quail smokes a pipe while Perpendicular Purple Polly reads the newspaper and eats parsnip pie.