Troublesome beards & delightful limericks: Edward Lear’s A Book of Nonsense (1861)

Illustration of 'There was an Old Man with a Beard ' - a limerick from Edward Lear’s A Book of Nonsense

Apparently Beards Are Back! And you must keep on top of your beard or they become unmanageable; plucking and trimming – shampoo and beard oil required.

The great age of the beard was the Victorian era. And to judge from this illustration the Victorians struggled with beard grooming as we do today. Perhaps seeing so much out of control facial hair is what inspired the above illustration and limerick from Edward Lear’s A Book of Nonsense, 3rd ed (1861).

“There was an Old Man with a beard,

Who said, “It is just as I feared! —

Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren,

Have all built their nests in my beard.”

 

Eaten BY a dinosaur or eating IN a dinosaur? First = Bad, Second = good

Illustration of a New Year's Eve dinner inside an iguana

A lovely illustration of a famous New Year’s Eve dinner inside a iguanadon (1853). Present were paleontologist, R. Owen, paleoartist B.W. Hawkins – and various scientists and newspaper editors.

And here are my only two dinosaur jokes:

What do you call a short-sighted dinosaur? “Do-you-think-he-saw-us”
What do you call a short-sighted dinosaur’s dog? “Do-you-think-he-saw-us-Rex”

[Deafening silence, I’ll get my coat]

A griffin having a snack, probably created in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England (1200s)

A griffin - half eagle and half lion, probably created in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England - 1200s

A griffin – half eagle and half lion, carrying its prey in its claws. The image is taken from a Bestiary*. This manuscript was originally produced in England, probably in Salisbury, Wiltshire in the thirteenth century (1200s).

*To save you looking up “Bestiary” – it is a descriptive or anecdotal treatise on various kinds of animal, popular in the medieval period – and often having a moralising tone.

[Acknowledgement: British Library.]

The Monkey and the Dolphin (c.1868) by Gustave Doré

The Monkey and the Dolphin (c.1868) by Gustave Doré

The Monkey and the Dolphin (c.1868) by Gustave Doré (1832-1883), French artist, printmaker, illustrator & sculptor. Wood engraving – via The Met Museum.

A scene from the book: Fontaine’s Fables. The fables of Jean de La Fontaine were issued in several volumes, 1668-1694 and are considered classics of French literature. There are 239 fables in total. When he first wrote his Fables, La Fontaine had an adult audience in mind, but they came to be regarded as providing an excellent education in morals for children. Do we have a modern equivalent? Moral fables?

 

Boy Reading an Adventure Story (1923) by Norman Rockwell

Boy Reading an Adventure Story (1923) by Norman Rockwell

Boy Reading an Adventure Story (1923) by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978). Rockwell was a popular American author, painter and illustrator.

I wonder what the book is that the boy is so absorded by? It seems to be illustrated. Having been in the book trade, if I had to guessimate, I’d say it was something by writer and illustrator, Howard Pyle – “The Story of King Arthur and His Knights” (or one of it’s 3 sequels), 1903-1910.

The dog is dreaming of lunch.