My mother had a very early edition of Edward Lear’s BOOK OF NONSENSE. It wasn’t a first edition, but a very nifty looking third edition.
There was a Young Person of Smyrna,
Whose Grandmother threatened to burn her;
But she seized on the cat,
And said, ‘Granny, burn that!
You incongruous Old Woman of Smyrna!’
I wish I had hung on to it, but it slipped away.
I don’t remember if it had the complete compilation of Lear’s verses, but I don’t think it contained such poems as THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT.
By extreme fortune, I came across a rare copy of THE COMPLETE NONSENSE OF EDWARD LEAR COLLECTED AND INTRODUCED BY HOLBROOK JACKSON. Originally published in London by Faber and Faber in 1947. My book is a Dover reprint from 1951. I could not find it anywhere on the Internet with this wonderful cover.
It contains “Every nonsense book ever published by Edward Lear . . . ” including the Jumblies, nonsense alphabets, songs, and “hundreds of others.”
“With ALL 546 original Lear illustrations.”
If you can find any edition of such a wonder, grab it!
Originally created for children, I am not sure modern children will “get” all the puns. Some of the words may even be found offensive by some readers, but Lear is definitely worth reading – for generations to come!
There was an Old Derry down Derry,
who loved to see little folks merry;
So he made them a book,
and with laughter they shook
at the fun of that Derry down Derry.