Bearded ornithologists (8)

Edward Lear (1812-1888) was an English poet, traveler and artist. He is famous for his nonsense verse, limericks and songs, such as The Owl and the Pussycat. Meanwhile he was one of the most talented illustrators of birds of the 19th century. At the age of 18 he started working on his ‘Illustrations of the family of the Psittacidae or Parrots: the greater part of them hitherto unfigured, containing forty-two lithographic plates, drawn from life on stone‘ which he published in 1832 (and was recently reproduced by Taschen). Lear also worked as an illustrator for Lord Stanley and John Gould.

In 1856 Charles Lucien Bonaparte (nephew of Napoleon) honored him in the name Anodorhynchus leari, colloquially known as Lear’s macaw.

Lear is often regarded as homosexual, but his lack of any relationships beyond mere longing and the nature of his verse and his ironically sad life have encouraged some critics to see him as a shy heterosexual or completely asexual.

Edward Lear spent his later life in Sanremo, Italy, with his companion and cook Giorgis, and his cat, Foss, who died in 1886.