Samuel Pepys

pepysThis man is clearly on people’s minds- and why not? This morning, I posted a picture (@professor_tim_wilson) that I drew in a noisy garden, reflecting on the fact that there has been some fake news arising mostly from someone who has been posting modern plague diaries. The most sensational quotation is here:

“On hearing ill rumour that Londoners may soon be urged into their lodgings by Her Majesty’s men, I looked upon the street to see a gaggle of striplings making fair merry, and no doubt spreading the plague well about. Not a care had these rogues for the health of their elders!”

It is not genuine at all and belongs to someone going under the name @PepysDiaries. Would that it were real because it would suggest the great Pepys was prescient indeed. But he was not. He was not even very nice.

I cannot see why anyone would want to pretend to be Samuel Pepys! (unless they had plans for their own personal Mrs Bagwell, I suppose… she must have liked him, or maybe she was just grateful.) the whole diary is a bit distasteful, what about poor Mr Bagwell, who worked so hard to keep Samuel happy. and Samuel’s wife away in Woolwich.

What struck me most in rereading the original plague diaries is simply how patronising they are and what a distance they show between “them and us”. The plague, for all its nastiness, hit the poor far more than the rich, and Pepys wrings his hands about the people in the kent road and the unemployed seamen but I am afraid he does not do much. He is more distracted by Mrs Cooke. And so, Pepys observes at the end that “I have never lived so merrily . . . as I have done this plague-time.” Maybe, he was trying to put a Christmas gloss on a bad situation but it comes across as a bit heartless when so many died around him in London.

This, incidentally, is what the present day Pepys adds to clarify things,

“I hath been told by several fellows that my musings upon the pox in the year of our Lord 2020 are being mistook by some for my diaries of yore. I mean not to make a fool of any man, but hasten to mind my good friends that my quill here doth write of modern-day matters.”

I have found that a good friend, George (from Ireland) has identified the house of Pepys and he gives a very good account himself of the Pepys of plague-time London. It is well-worth a watch. Here is a link:

(You can also check up George’s account of the Edward Lear house.)

 

Nicholas Parsons

It is so sad to read of the death of the great Nicholas Parsons. He has dominated tv and radio for all my life- I remember “sale of the Century” and the “Benny Hill show” with affection when I was little and more recently, I cannot think of a weekend without a fix of “Just a minute”, even doing catch-ups in Moscow and Athens (though Gyles Brandreth took over at least once this summer- he did well, but it was not quite the same, was it?). But, most of all, I also greatly appreciate the fact that he bothered to write to me once about my hero, Edward Lear. He was, indeed, often the person of choice to recite limericks  on the radio and the tv – and his “Owl and the Pussycat” was excellent. With his passing, Lear-o-philes will be the poorer.

I also remember seeing him on stage in the “Rocky Horror” but, particularly, as the narrator in “Into the woods”, popping up at the end of act 1 with a daisy head-dress. I am about to do a programme on radio Fubar about rap and his opening of the Sondheim piece (along with the witch’s rap about vegetables of course) must qualify. It was a brave piece to do and he brought it off with aplomb.

I am not sure anyone has mentioned his Dr Who appearance as a vicar? Or that he took over from Tim Brooke Taylor as rector of St Andrews, my first university? What a wonderful man! Much to be missed.

 

The latest version of “How pleasant to know Mr Lear”

I am slowly ploughing through the animation of the girl on a swing. It is animated on 1s so fairly time-consuming but the changing perspective demands this level of attention I think.

and here is a later version ( 26th)

Even more Edward Lear!

Lear wrote some many limericks that there is really no end to the number of crazy drawings possible. Here are a couple of pictures for the new film that are loose versions of what we are also trying to animate for the “Following Lear” project – when it gets properly or fully financed! In the meantime..

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Oh and here is one I did yesterday with a picture of Stirling castle in the background. Sometimes, I rather miss the days when I was at St Andrews… Scotland is such a glorious country in all respects!

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Drawings of Edward Lear

While Edward Lear often drew cartoons of himself, he was also sketched and photographed a number of times. I have copied some of these images for a quick film I am making to illustrate the suite composed by David Watson, and that uses the themes from some of the songs he wrote for our project “Following Lear”. It is always interesting when looking closely at Lear how he is often looking into the distance. I think this is less to do with the mechanics of the camera and more to do with his general air of melancholy.

More than that, I learnt that a camera remained in the Kokali family and was passed around various houses in Corfu. This camera dates back to the period when Lear was at his most active drawing and sketching images of the landscape in Greece, Turkey and Albania. It is possible that Lear used the camera in his work, that he was comfortable with the machine and relaxed in its company.

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Holman Hunt was a good friend and encouraged Lear to paint in teh open air. Lear did so but quickly gave up the effort and went back to his earlier system of creating detailed sketches, often annotated in modern Greek, a language he had studied and picked up in Corfu.

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The elderly Lear:

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and the Young Lear:

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More Lear limerick drawings

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-10-15-45Lear wrote 212 limericks.

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The Dong with the luminous nose is not strictly a limerick-screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-09-09-04

A poster for our exhibition in Wolfson, Oxford showing the owl and pussycat posingfor passports before embarking on their 366 day pea green cruise.

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BBC and Edward Lear

Lucy Worsley’s first episode of “British History’s Biggest Fibs” aired last night and some very positive reviews in the Press today. My graphics looked very good and, indeed, I noticed that my Shakespeare drawing got used rather more than I expected! All worthwhile. Do, meanwhile, check it out on BBCiplayer!

The title changed a few times during production, so here is a different version of the title sequence:

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Next week is the Glorious Revolution (a contrast to the french Revolution, of course) and the final week will be the British Raj.

The Producer wrote to me today to say that the first programme had got an audience of 1.3 million, very good indeed for BBC4 which usually gets audiences of about 500,000.

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Meanwhile, here is my version of a painting Lear did in 1863 of the island of Philae which will accompany “the Lear Suite” by David Watson:screen-shot-2017-01-27-at-18-08-51

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Some Edward Lear Pictures

David Watson has put together many of the Edward Lear compositions to form a Suite. We shall post a version of this shortly. In the meantime, in celebration, here are some Edward Lear illustrations.

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owl and cat japanese

lear and Howard Carter

Here is the Dong with a luminous nose-

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