The anthology includes a short biography of Lear, who was born in 1812 as one of twenty-one children. He began his career as an illustrator of nature studies and was known for his colored drawings of birds. While living in the home of the Earl of Derby, he entertained the children with silly rhymes and drawings, and those high spirited activities lead to the publication of his first Book of Nonsense. As a landscape painter, Lear divided his time between Britain and the Mediterranean. The article in the Anthology of Children’s Literature says that he taught drawing to Queen Victoria, but using a quick internet search, I’ve been unable to confirm the fact. Please let me know, if you find a source that gives an account of teaching the queen!
Lear is famous for his limericks, and you can find more information about his life and writing at the web site for the Poetry Foundation. One of my favorite poems is this verse about the Quangle Wangle. In March my first grade students will learn about animals and their homes. I hope to have them draw their own version of the tree with the Quangle Wangle and his houseguests!
The Quangle Wangle’s Hat
by Edward LearIOn the top of the Crumpetty TreeThe Quangle Wangle sat,But his face you could not see,On account of his Beaver Hat.For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,With ribbons and bibbons on every sideAnd bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace,So that nobody every could see the faceOf the Quangle Wangle Quee.IIThe Quangle Wangle saidTo himself on the Crumpetty Tree, —“Jam; and jelly; and bread;“Are the best of food for me!“But the longer I live on this Crumpetty Tree“The plainer than ever it seems to me“That very few people come this way“And that life on the whole is far from gay!”Said the Quangle Wangle Quee.IIIBut there came to the Crumpetty Tree,Mr. and Mrs. Canary;And they said, — “Did every you see“Any spot so charmingly airy?“May we build a nest on your lovely Hat?“Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!“O please let us come and build a nest“Of whatever material suits you best,“Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!”IVAnd besides, to the Crumpetty TreeCame the Stork, the Duck, and the Owl;The Snail, and the Bumble-Bee,The Frog, and the Fimble Fowl;(The Fimble Fowl, with a corkscrew leg;)And all of them said, — “We humbly beg,“We may build out homes on your lovely Hat, —“Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!“Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!”VAnd the Golden Grouse came there,And the Pobble who has no toes, —And the small Olympian bear, —And the Dong with a luminous nose.And the Blue Baboon, who played the Flute, —And the Orient Calf from the Land of Tute, —And the Attery Squash, and the Bisky Bat, —All came and built on the lovely HatOf the Quangle Wangle Quee.VIAnd the Quangle Wangle saidTo himself on the Crumpetty Tree, —“When all these creatures move“What a wonderful noise there’ll be!”And at night by the light of the Mulberry moonThey danced to the Flute of the Blue Baboon,On the broad green leaves of the Crumpetty Tree,And all were as happy as happy could be,With the Quangle Wangle Quee.