As Darwin 200 year comes to a close, Newquay Zoo is already talking to old friends and seeking new partners for Lear Year, a Festival of Nonsense in 2012 to celebrate another bearded Victorian icon, Edward Lear (1812-1888). Best known as a nonsense poet of limericks and The Owl and The Pussycat, he is less well-known as a travel writer, zoological and landscape painter who had commissions to illustrate part of Darwin’s Voyage of The Beagle book.
Watch this space for more details or contact Mark Norris at Newquay Zoo for more news of this nonsense.
Only one set of stamps celebrating Edward Lear exist that I know of, issued in Britain in 1988, a little different from the hundreds of beautiful Darwin thematic or commemorative stamps produced over the last 100 years. Darwin is featured on more stamp issues worldwide than anyone else except the Royal family.
Celebrating Lear’s life and works at Newquay Zoo in 2012, we’re trying to make up in a small way for the disastrous few weeks Lear spent not painting or walking much in Cornwall and Devon because it rained “for fifteen days” according to Lear. It’s not raining at the moment here.
A timeline of Charles Darwin and / or Edward Lear’s life and times, illustrated with stamps at important dates (using scans of stamps) would be a good classroom display.
The Victorians invented from 1837 to 1901 penny postage and postage stamps as we know them today. Victorian life, times, writers, travellers, explorers, inventors and scientists remain a popular primary school History curriculum topic . A section on postal history is included in our stamp book Charles Darwin: A Celebration in Stamps.
It’s fair to say that the Victorians are not dead and have not gone away – they exist in the houses and cities we live in, the cemeteries, museums, galleries, railways and bridges we use today worldwide. They also developed many zoos and botanic gardens and invented the aquarium. Many late Victorian children carried on active work into the 1960s and 1970s, assuming they survived the slaughter of the First World War. Some of our oldest centenarians alive today were born under Queen Victoria and many of our senior citizens were the children of Victorian parents.
A.N. Wilson’s highly readable history book The Victorians is a good thick paperback introduction to the period; there is beautiful illustrated version available too.
It’s nice to have an alternative to the usual figure of Florence Nightingale, celebrating the centenary of her death in 2010. Are there stamps of the ‘other’ Florence Nightingale, nurse Mary Seacole? We’ll have look out for some.
Recent Royal Mail stamps were issued in Britain of many Victorian figures ranging from writers to explorers and engineers such as Brunel bicentenary in 2006 (www.brunel200.org), early pioneering photographs of the Crimean War Victoria Cross winners, Darwin and also the anniversary of many organisations and societies.
More in future blogs about Lear and Darwin, as well as using stamps to educate and inspire.
Cornish and Scottish schools who wish to have one of our Darwin limited edition stamp books free for educational use can contact Sandie Robb at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo email@example.com or Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo firstname.lastname@example.org. This is funded by the SPTA and ASPS, with a bequest for youth stamp work by the late Beryl Rennie.
Others interested in these books can contact Sandie Robb at the above RZSS address, cost £6 and £2 P&P although as all proceeds go to conservation and further wildlife stamp work, we will happily accept larger donations. You might even get your copy signed by one of us!