Book of Nonsense


Author: Edward Lear

Illustrator: Edward Lear

[LEAR, Edward]. A Book of Nonsense by Derry Down Derry. [London: T. McLean, 1855]. Oblong 8vo, [73] leaves. Blue cloth with spine stamped in gilt. Pale yellow endpapers; hand-lithographed illustrations on every page. Hinges (outer and inner) expertly mended, light edgewear, cloth lightly soiled and rubbed, slight foxing throughout, else a clean, tight copy of this exceedingly rare book.

Second edition, being a privately printed one-volume edition that combined both volumes of the first edition AND being the first appearance of Lear’s wonderfully whimsical rhymes in the familiar five-line limerick format. "Lear made new lithographic stones for this second edition, which may be rarer than the first" (Gordon N. Ray, The Illustrator and the Book in England from 1790 to 1914). The edition has no publishing information or author listed, simply bearing the first limerick (There was an Old Derry Down Derry) under an illustration which features the book’s title (Ray notes that this title, appearing shortly before Lear’s more serious Excursions in Italy, may have led Lear to publish this pseudonymously so as not to hurt reviews of the forthcoming work). Both the first and second editions of this book of verse contain three limericks that were not included in any of the numerous later editions of the book. A striking copy of this exceedingly rare, privately printed edition of Lear’s beloved nonsense rhymes.