Edward Lear (1812-1888) was an artist, illustrator and writer known for his Nonsense Poetry, his limericks and, increasingly, for his topographical watercolours. The twentieth of twenty one children, he was raised by his eldest sister, Ann, twenty-one years his senior. At the age of fifteen, he and his sister had to leave the family home and set up house together. He started work as a serious illustrator and his first publication, at the age of 19, was Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots. He continued to paint seriously throughout his life and his natural history paintings were favourably compared with those of Audubon. In 1846 Lear published A Book of Nonsense, a volume of limericks which went through three editions and helped popularise the form. His most famous piece of nonsense, The Owl and the Pussycat, followed in 1857, written for the children of his patron Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby. Although he exhibited in the Royal Academy from 1859-1873, he depended financially on the benevolence of his friends and worries over money continued until his death in San Remo, where he had spent his final years.