This blog was devoted to the publication of Edward Lear's Diaries from 1 January 1858 to 12 May 1862. From January 2009 each was posted exactly 150 years after it was written and the project came to an end on 12 May 2012, the bicentenary of Lear's birth. The text is as exact as possible a transcript of Houghton Library MS Eng. 797.3. You can keep following the diaries at the new blog.

Saturday, 3 May 1862

Very fine & pleasant all through.

But I got little or no sleep, ― at least until 3.30: partly fleas ― partly noises. ― However, at 5.20 ― rose ― & G. had a regular breakfast by 6: & at 6.40 we were off ― Spiro Assoniti preceding as guide. Damp & low grounds ― olive woods with gt. Foots but meager arms, patches of green, ― & myrtle & prunum ˇ[cistus], & passed-away Asphodel. ― There were semi-dry ditches too & a tortoise or 2. Land & water. We went near Zigonò ― a Χαλασμειον Χωρι,1 & by 8 reached S. Mattià ― a finely placed village. The Head Police received Burr’s letter joyfully & gave a peasant to guide me, ― I decided first, ― to Pantoκρατώρα, ― a monastery high up. A very pretty & hot pull!― & welcome was a cup of coffee & some rakhi:2 ― after which I drew on a higher front still, ― the view of Lefkimo, Albanian, & other ‘islands’ ― very beautiful: & opposite ― Fares & St. Angelo &c. We got down to S. Mattià at 12 ― & then had eggs & beans at the []: ― & at 1.30 [sit solo] again. The scenery is very beautiful=broken rox ― & superb olives: & so round the S. Mattià mountain, to Goudiki,3 or Palaιόκαστρο ― a Castle like Bodin or any 12th century gray ivied walls ― but with immense olives about it. I drew on a hill till 3.30 ― the long plain & sea forming a beautiful scene, ― but the vast olives are for studies not sketches ― & I grew disgusted. ― We returned by another route, to the δημοσιαν4 road near Braganιότιca,5 ― & about a mile from Strongili I sent forth the S. Mattià Guide with 2/6 ― having given him his dinner also. Lord! [how]6 he talked! ― G.’s silent nature is no end of blessing. ― At “home” by 5.

& at 7.20 am about to dine.

Which the γεῦμα7 was surprising ― curry & Ps. G.’s assiduity is untiring.

Bed at 8.45.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

  1. Ruined village (NB). Nina adds about Ζυγονό or Ζγονός: “This is actually quite interesting: It was a medieval village that was abandoned in the mid 18th/early 19th century, and there are many legends (of the folk-gothic horror kind) as to why — something about a village priest who became a vampire and infected the peasants with a fatal illness in connection to a feud between two rich families. There is no consensus about the real reason, it could be in fact some epidemic.” []
  2. Raki is a Turkish unsweetened, anise-flavored hard alcoholic drink that is popular in Turkey, Greece, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, and other Balkan countries as an apéritif. []
  3. This should be Gardikiou, Choris Onoma, Agios Matthaios, in Corfu. []
  4. Highway (NB). []
  5. Nina suggests this is Vragkaniotika. []
  6. Blotted. []
  7. Dinner (NB). []
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Friday, 2 May 1862

Cloudy early ― after 8 fine: ― after 2 ― cloudy again.

Rose at 5 ― & “packed.” ― Breakfast at 6.30. ― Set off μοναχὸς1 ― leaving notes at Bridge’s & papers at the Sargents’ ―― & going down to Καστράδες, where I “conferred” 2 hats on Nicolo & poor little Καραλάμμπι ― who I wish were stronger. Good old Βαύλια Κοκάλι: 65. ―

I walked slowly up to Sta. Decca, & drew a bit: & at 1, waited for G. whom I saw coming up with the Car: & at 1.30, had some Eggs ― at the ξειοδουχεῖον2 outside Sta. Decca: during which facts, M. Grasset, & 3 French gentlemen ― all fresh from Mauritius, came up. One of them knows Cockburn intimately. ―

At 2.30 ― walked on ― some of the most beautiful views of Corfu, & under the most beautiful phases of light & shade being “to be seen.” ― After the turning of Stavρὸ, there were some novel & fine views of S. Mattià & other places ― but at the 10th mile from Corfu, the land grew weary & wildinessy, & at the 12 mile, where the car stopped & we were told that the few dirty ruined houses above, was Strongilì3 ― horror arose. ―

There was howbeit no help ― so I had the things all placed in the “Casino Μαρκορὰν.” ― but it was deadly gloomy ― the more that it was heavy-cloudy ― & began to rain. From 4.30 to 6 ― I wandered, with Cav. Marcoran’s man ― he is a vy. dirty man, ―― & finally drew a pretty nook of palms, olive, & cypress: ― for there is really nothing to call for general drawing.

Came up at 6.30 ― & at 7 had a good dinner of cold lamb & pease. ―

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

  1. Alone (NB). []
  2. Hotel (NB). []
  3. Strogyli (Στρογγυλή). []
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Thursday, 1 May 1862

Change to North wind: (mist, & a little rain at 6 or 7.)

Headache. Cross ― dawdled ― Taylor’s men not coming.

At 12 ― they came ― they took away my 2 large cases. ― Di questo, in poi,1 I don’t mean to fret about them: ― our vily occupation being gone for the present. ―

Coloured a Palaiokastritza sketch: & at 1.30 went out, intending to go to Mrs. Woolffs, but met her & Eu. K. driving in. So I promised to go later, ― & came back ― & bought camphor, medicine &c. Then at 2.30 returned ― but they had not come back ― so I lunched with the 2 children & maids ― not uncomfortiously. ――At 4 ― they came back, but Eu. K. had a bad cold. Mrs. W. is very clever.

Kandoria called, ― “a wealthy” man.

Storm of rain & thunder.

Staid till 5.30. Then home ― buying Salomon’s poems.

Dined at 7.15. ―

Penned out till 10.


[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

  1. He probably means, “from now on.” []
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Wednesday, 30 April 1862

Rayther hotter ― but fine all day.

Riz at 5.

O criky bore! state of packing 16 cases of pictures in a big case ― till 9 ― with the ‘Zincaro’1 of 1847, George, & others. ―― Called at Taylor’s ― & returned at 9.30.

Breakfast. ― The big package not “fixed” till 12 & Taylor’s men, not finding it ready, “abandoned” it. Post, brought, 2 papers, ― & a letter (a kind & nice note,) from Majr. Reynolds ― buying my 35£ Corfu. Packed & arranged drawings, & by 3 or 4 ― made up a 2nd case, & again went to Taylor’s. Where I saw Sir C. Sargent, going to Athens in the ‘Queen’, ― & read the last horrid battle news of America. ―――― ― ― ―

Returned by 5 or 6 ― & then [started] the packing & zincking of the 2nd case. ―

After which, at nearly 7, roamed road & so to the St. George ― where I dined; not at all ill. ―

Came home, & finding G. out, lighted my 2 Lamps: whereby he of course instantly came in. It is an observable fact, how that man everlastingly works & never complains. ―

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

  1. “Zingaro,” gypsy. []

Tuesday, 29 April 1862

Fine, but misty early.

Rose at 7.

Posted letters to C.F. ― Ellen, T. Cooper, Drummond & the Linnean.

Abschewed work ― as it is impossible to do anything while so unsettled.

Whereon ― resolving to send off these pictures & packed & screwed in ― with G.’s help ― all the morning ― 16 cases in all. ―

Nice letter from Sir S. Marcorãn: ― I am to go to his home at Strongili.

Went to Taylors ― at 3 or 4 ― to ask about L. Steamers’ ―: ― & arranged to pack the big case tomorrow.

At 4.30 or 5 ― went up to the Candóni Hill & drew till 5.50. Saw Mrs. Woolff, but she did not come back.

Home by 7.30, dined.

Penned out till 10.30[.]

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

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Monday, 28 April 1862

Clear, fine, warm: mist early ― till 8 or 9.

Rose at 6.30. Not well.

Wrote to Julia Goldsmid at Constantinople.

Unable to write.

Post brought Saturday, & Wednesday Review, ― but no Evening Mails ― no letters ― whereat [wroth].

Worked a little off & on at S.F.G.’s Mt. Athos.

At 4.30 ― went up to Candoni Hill & made a small outline of Καλιάκοπουλος, & the hills. Below, the race course shone. ―

Saw M. Grasset ― & returned at 5.45 or 6 ― by the Parga path-way. Fell in with good Craven ― a kindly good man.

Dined at 7.30. ―

Penned out till 10.30.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

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Sunday, 27 April 1862

Same lovely weather ― but, bit north breeze.

Wrote to Ellen, C.F. T. Cooper, & Linnean Society.

G. Παραμιθιόττι called, & agreed that the De Veres can come here if they will do so for 4 months.

At 1.20 ― walked out to Mrs. Woolffs, whom I found alone, with Φιζζι. Lunched & sate talking till 4.

Home: dressed. ― George not in at 6.

Went, by Καστράδες ― up to Casino ― by 7.

The De Veres ― how pretty ― even beautiful Mrs. D.V. looks dressed in a bonnet: ― but a certain “Irish” ἀπανω πατώματα1 prevails when she is presiding. ―

Hamilton appears to me a well=conditioned fellow.

Ἐτραγούδησα ἔπειτα.2

The D.Vs. do not come here, but are to live a yott.

Walked home with Major H.: nearly 12 when I got to the Παλατιον Παραμυθιοττι.3

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

  1. Upstairs (NB). []
  2. Then I sang (NB). []
  3. Paramithiotti Palace. []
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Saturday, 26 April 1862

Very clear & fine all day.

Rose at 5. At 6 with D. Οἰκονόμος, ― hottish walk, but slow, to Κυνοπιάστρες, ― where I was introduced to Sig. Villetta: ― it is curious to remember how I used to draw outside the house years ago! ― After sketching an outline of the pearl-blue mountains, I left ― tea ― [trout] & eggs ― was ready: & very pleasant, in the garden ― below the pergola. Then I wandered about seeking places I might draw in ― certainly Κυνοπιάστες is a lovely place. Then I called on a Mr. & Mrs. Μέξα, living in one of the Viletta Villas, & then at 12, with Villetta, & Μεξα, (οἰκονόμος went to sleep ―) we went in search of some pine trees ― those wh. of old F.L. & I used to walk to ― but we only discovered them after a long & hot & merry walk ― returning by 3 to Κυνοπιάστες[.]

Μέξα conversed sensibly about the “Protection[:]” he likes the English, but cannot understand their policy ― of wh. perhaps they have nil. At 4 we dined ― all 4 of us ― & very well. Οἰκονόμος came out strongly with the κρασῖ1 ― as a Ζοροάστrian or what not. Once in a way [sic] this sort of thing is pleasant: & anyhow Villetta’s hospitality & kindness is extreme.

At 6.40 ― we ― Οἰκονομος & I slowly walked home, ― that very queer bird talking always ― & τόιον! & πόσουν!2 Speaking of his aristocratic Epiroti mother’s severity ― he said she never entered into his plans ― “καὶ εὰν τὴν λέγω ὃτι μὲ χρειάζεται νὰ ἓχω γυναῖκα3 ―” she will not understand me, but rather if anything opposes me.” ―― very hot walk, & unnumerable fireflies.

At home about 9.

Letters from Ellen: ― & the Linnean Society, ― requesting to drop it the A.L.S. if I did not communicate science. ―

The fireflies. ―


[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

  1. Wine (NB). []
  2. And how and how much! []
  3. And if I tell her that I need to have a woman (NB). []

Friday, 25 April 1862

Particularly lovely clear all day.

Rose at 6.

Painted at Philæ ― (Grenfells) till 12, & “bettering” it “with time.”

Οἰκονόμος,1 & Mrs. & 3 Miss Longhmans came.

After wh. I worked at the large Corfu till 2.30. At 3 ― went slowly to the Ἐπάνω Γεφύρι2 near Potamo, & drew, surrounded by imps, till 6.20.

Returned home. Letter from De Vere, wishing to take Maude’s rooms, ― & I went to Παραμυθιόττι on purpose ―: but it seems they are to be let to the I. Consul.

Dined ― kid & pease.

Penned out till 10.


[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

  1. The housekeeper (NB). []
  2. Upper Bridge (NB). []
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Thursday, 24 April 1862

Quite fine.

Rose at 6. G. ― who came in at 5 ― says Karalambi is better, but has fever. ―

Worked at Grenfell’s Philæ ― not ill.

Mr. & Mrs. Barr, & Mr. & Mrs. Clark came, but Mrs. Longhman not ― which is a bore. ―

At 2 I lunched: fell asleep: woke ― & X8 so the tally will keep at the third day still, all I can do.

There are games below Condi Terrace, ― to see which I have sent out G. ― But I knew not what to do myself.

At 5 ― I walked out & observed jumpings &c. Then to the Kokali home, where I saw poor little pretty Καραλάμπι, who is better, but I doubt his ever living to be strong & well.

I saw ˇ[the] good old mother too ― who said ― “Δὲν εἶμαι τόσον καλὰ, διὰ γεράμματα”1 ― a real good woman that.

Walked up to the Casino & back by 7.20.


G. went to his house ― poor fellow.

I penned out till 11[.]

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3.]

  1. I am not that well because of old age (NB). []
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