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Edward Lear’s Complete Nonsense published by Folio Society

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We love a Folio Society publication here! I have chosen Complete Nonsense by Edward Lear as my featured book this month. I am sure the older generation are very familiar with his works. I’m not too sure about the younger generation… perhaps now is their chance to familiarise themselves?

Edward Lear’s Complete Nonsense published by Folio SocietySlipcase

This book comprises of 5 of Edward Lear’s publications combined into one volume. The books are:

Edward Lear is probably best known for his nonsensical limericks which have no point whatsoever except, maybe, to make us laugh.

Wikipedia describes a limerick as being a five-line form of verse which is often humorous and frequently rude. Lear’s limericks are printed as four lines although they could be five lines. One of my favourites is:

There was an Old Person whose habits,
Induced him to feed upon Rabbits;
When he’d eaten eighteen, he turned perfectly green,
Upon which he relinquished those habits.


Such is my sense of humour! Another:

There was an Old Man of the South
Who had an immoderate mouth;
But in swallowing a dish, that was quite full of fish,
He was choked, that Old Man of the South.

Immoderate Mouth

Hmmm, I see a theme on food here…! It might be best to write this article when I am not dieting!

I like this copy of Complete Nonsense as unusually, although it is a modern publication, the black and white illustrations of each limerick, and indeed the further verses, have been coloured in by Richard Beards. I don’t recall seeing a copy in colour previously, although I’m sure they must be out there.

Nonsense songs include:

  • The Owl and the Pussy-cat - how they went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat. Basically, a love song between an Owl and a Pussy-cat… what nonsense!
The Owl and the Pussycat
  • The Pobble who has no Toes – How the Pobble lost his toes in the Bristol Channel by failing to keep his nose warm! (Bizarre!)
Pobble who has no Toes

This Folio Society edition of the Complete Nonsense, introduced by Quentin Blake, was first published in this edition in 1996. It is beautifully bound in yellow printed cloth with a design by Richard Beards who also designed the slipcase, title page, and coloured illustrations. These books have a regular turnover within the shop so if you miss out this time, we are sure to get another at a later date!

Contributed by Sonia

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(Published 7th Dec 2021)

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