The Owl and the Pussey cat went to sea

Edward Lear, British landscape painter and writer, wrote many limericks and "nonsenses" (as he called them) for children. One of his most famous nonsense poems is "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat," shown here in his hand:

Autograph manuscript of "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat" (MA 2482). The poem was composed in Dec. 1867 and first published in 1871.


Lear ends this copy of his humorous poem with a note that he "meant to have illustrated it, but there ain't time."

Although The Morgan does not have Lear's illustration of his poem, we do have a sketch of the poem by Beatrix Potter. In an 1897 letter to a young boy named Noel Moore, Potter draws him a "picture of the owl and the pussy cat after they were married."


Sketch of the Owl and the Pussy-cat after they were married, from Beatrix Potter's Mar. 4, 1897 letter to Noel Moore (MA 2009.10).

For more information about the manuscript of Lear’s poem, click here. For more information about the Beatrix Potter letter, click here.

The Leon Levy Foundation is generously underwriting a major project to upgrade catalog records for the Morgan's collection of literary and historical manuscripts. The project is the most substantive effort to date to improve primary research information on a portion of this large and highly important collection.

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