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.”


Photo of Edgar Allan Poe, writer

Photo of Edgar Allan Poe, writer

A photograph of Edgar Allan Poe, American poet & author (1809-1849). Posing between two friends. It’s wonderful we have a photograph of the great man, given that he died in the 1840s and the earliest known photograph to include the human form wasn’t until 1838 [in Paris, France]

“Take thy beak from out my heart, & take thy form from off my door!” [from The Raven and other poems]

Fascinating fact: Poe was obsessed with cats and often wrote with a cat on his shoulder.