Edward Lear has a double niche in English culture, as a writer of inspired comic and sometimes surrealistic verse and as a skilled watercolour artist, sketching in Europe, as well as in Egypt, the Holy Land, Greece, and India.

He is responsible for that sea-faring tale of the Owl and the Pussy-Cat, and the Pobble who has no toes. Here he writes a rather charming biographical study of himself, complete with runcible hat.


‘How pleasant to know Mr Lear!’

Who has written such volumes of stuff!

Some think him ill-tempered and queer,

But a few think him pleasant enough.


His mind is concrete and fastidious,

His nose is remarkably big;

His visage is more or less hideous,

His beard it resembles a wig.


He has ears and two eyes, and ten fingers,

Leastways if you reckon two thumbs;

Long ago he was one of the singers,

But now he is one of the dumbs.


He sits in a beautiful parlour

With hundreds of books on the wall;

He drinks a great deal of Marsala,

But never gets tipsy at all.


He has many friends, laymen and clerical,

Old Foss is the name of his cat;

His body is perfectly spherical,

He weareth a runcible hat.


When he walks in a waterproof white,

The children run after him so!

Calling out, ‘he’s come out in his night-

gown, that crazy old Englishman, oh!’


He weeps by the side of the ocean,

He weeps on the top of the hill;

He purchases pancakes and lotion,

And chocolate shrimps from the mill.


He reads but he cannot speak Spanish,

He cannot abide ginger-beer:

Ere the days of his pilgrimage vanish,

How pleasant to know Mr Lear!