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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Eng 797.3

Edward Lear diaries


Diaries of artist and author Edward Lear kept during the last thirty years of his life.


  • 1858-1888

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.


3.2 linear feet (30 volumes)
Each volume contains diary entries by Edward Lear from 1858 until a few months before his death. The entries, generally kept daily with some notable omissions, frequently discuss his paintings, as well as his health problems and depression. Lear's primary residence was in England through 1870, when he settled in San Remo, Italy. He also traveled extensively, and usually took at least one long trip each year, often in search of new artistic material. These diaries describe travels in Egypt, England, France, Greece, India, Italy, Lebanon, and Switzerland, among other places.

Each diary also includes personal financial accounts arranged by month in the back of the volume. Some volumes include Lear's registers of correspondence (1858-1861, 1873-1888), and lists of his paintings (1864-1885), sometimes annotated with purchaser and price. Occasionally, diary entries are illustrated with Lear's pen and ink drawings, or with seating diagrams for dinner parties Lear attended. Several volumes include pay receipts signed by Lear's servant Giorgio Kokali.

The diaries are all written into blank volumes published yearly by Charles Letts & Co., which include printed advertisements, calendar dates, information on British customs, tariffs, bank rates, etc. Lear often annotated the printed almanac pages with his travel itineraries.

Biographical / Historical

Edward Lear was an English landscape painter who also became known for his collections of self-illustrated nonsense verse.


Arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

42M-206. Gift of William B. Osgood Field, Westfield House, Lake Mohegan, New York; received: 1942 July 27.

Existence and Location of Copies

Archival negative microfilms on file for all volumes.

  • Discussed in William B. Osgood Field, Edward Lear on my shelves (New York: privately printed, 1933), 227-236.
  • Portions of the diaries are transcribed and published on Edward Lear's Diaries,

Processing Information

Processed by: Rick Stattler
Link to catalog
Lear, Edward, 1812-1888. Edward Lear diaries, 1858-1888: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Description rules

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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