May 12, 2015

It Happened on May 12th

Edward Lear, 1988

Edward Lear Born 1812 

Limerick Day

Today is Limerick Day, in honor of the birthday of Edward Lear, who did much to advance the art and popularity of limericks. His best known poem, however, is "The Owl and the Pussycat," with "The Pobble Who Has No Toes" running a close second. Lear's poems are wonderful, cheerful things, full of nonsense and wonderful sounds.

It comes as a surprise to learn that Lear had quite a trying life. He was the 21st child of Jeremiah and Ann Lear, and was raised primarily by his oldest sister, also named Ann. He had health problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and partial blindness. He also suffered from grand mal epileptic seizures, which horrified and shamed him. Eventually he began to recognize the signs of an oncoming seizure, and retire to a private room where he could somewhat control it.

The Owl, the Pussycat, and the Piggy-Wig
From the age of seven he was plagued with episodes of depression. As he grew older, they became quite severe. He referred to them as the "Morbids."

He never married, but he proposed, twice, to the same girl, who was 46 years younger than he was. He was refused on both occasions. He had many correspondents, but few close friends. His best friend was his chef, a Souliot, a good companion and, according to Lear, a terrible chef. His funeral was attended by the wife of his physician, and not much of anybody else.

Frederick Schiller Faust (Max Brand)

Max Brand Died, 1944

Max Brand was a successful and talented writer of westerns, adventure stories, and mysteries. His real name was Frederick Schiller Faust, but he used that name only for his published poetry, which he considered his serious work. His novels were published under the pseudonyms George Owen Baxter, George Evans, David Manning, Peter Morland, Frederick Frost, George Challis, John Frederick, and, most famously, Max Brand.

Richard Chamberlain as Dr. Kildare in 1961.
In his lifetime, it's estimated that Brand wrote and published somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 million words. Most were originally published in pulp magazines. Among his most famous characters were Destry (from Destry Rides Again) and Dr. Kildare.

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