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Nonsense Botanies
and Zoologies


Holbrook Jackson's The Complete Nonsense of EL contains three Nonsense Botanies:

  • 1871, from Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets
  • 1872, from More Nonsense Pictures, Rhymes Botany &c.
  • 1877, from Laughable Lyrics. A Fourth Book of Nonsense Poems, Songs, Botany, Music, &c.

These are based on linguistic puns similar to Carroll's portmanteau words translated into pictures of absurd plants and flowers. This idea has been widely used in subsequent literature; here is one of my favourite examples; if you know any others please mail me.

As for Lear, he did not often create composite animals, one example, from Teapots and Quails, edited by A. Davidson & Ph. Hofer, being

Another interesting example, from the same book, is

in which the bodies of the three characters get mixed. This kind of illustrated story is very similar to those of Lear's contemporary Wilhelm Bush. Lear never published such works in his lifetime, they were generally included in letters to friends. These are full of humour and often as enjoyable as his published nonsense works: speaking of man-animal mixtures, here is a Lear-snail-postman note to his lifelong friend Evelyn Baring.

Lear also loved inventing animals, and especially birds, an example being The Akond of Swat, another his series of coloured birds.


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