Poole Museum
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From 9 April - 30 October 2022,
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Featured objects

There was a Young Lady of Poole

User AvatarPosted by Penelope Lovesy at 05/02/2021 14:45:06

With the current global situation, it is important to try and remain positive. If nothing else, this week’s featured object will put a smile on your face. 

This is a print of Edward Lear’s limerick ‘There was a Young Woman of Poole’, complete with a jaunty cartoon drawn by Lear himself. 

Edward Lear is best known as poet and his work ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ is certainly known by many, if not all. It may come as a surprise, but Lear was also an accomplished artist, beginning his working life as an ornithological draughtsman for the Zoological Society (now the Zoological Society of London) and even taught Queen Victoria to draw. 

There was a Young Lady of Poole’ limerick was presented as part of his very successful ‘Book of Nonsense’, a collection of 109 limericks published in 1846 that helped popularise the form of poetry. 

But, during LGBT history month, it is important to recognise that Lear, like so many other members of the LGBTQ+ community, had to live a life that was hidden and promote a public persona that wasn’t true to himself. 

It has been said that his nonsense verses were used to communicate his hidden feelings and escape the torment of living a life that wasn’t fitting for a man in Victorian England. The written word has often been a powerful platform for writers to speak honestly far away from the immediate scrutiny of prying eyes.  


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