The literary lives of twelve famous Victorians, told in the poetic form they knew so well
Nobody knows for sure why limericks are named limericks. They’re obviously named in honour of Limerick, the city in Ireland, but beyond that nothing is known for certain about why a five-line comic poem should be so named. But the limerick is probably the most recognisable poetic form: ask people to name the usual number of lines in a sonnet or villanelle, and you’ll doubtless find some who are in the know, but many will be unable to say for sure. Conversely, it is almost universally known that a limerick is five lines long, with the first, second, and fifth lines usually rhyming (and, to complement this, the third and fourth lines).
As limericks were such a favourite literary pastime of the Victorians – as attested by the popularity of Edward Lear’s limericks in his Book of Nonsense (1846) – we’ve set ourselves the task of writing some limericks about Victorian writers. The results of our efforts are documented below. Where possible, we’ve tried to incorporate biographical facts into the poems, such as Thomas Carlyle’s dyspepsia, but this has not always been easy – so sometimes, I’m afraid, we’ve fallen back on a bit of good old-fashioned absurdist nonsense. In our defence, such a strain of nonsense is a staple of the limerick form as it was practised by the Victorians. Anyway, we hope you enjoy these.
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Great article! I’ve had a measly attempt but its the best I’ve got whilst trying to write at work!
There was a young writer called Woolf
Who wrote most of her works on the roof
Most found her disarming
But she was rather charming
If only sometimes a little aloof.
Ok so maybe you have to stretch the rhymes a bit…but it almost works!!
great post! Good to learn about Gaskell and others. I wrote a limerick for you on Edward Lear.
‘How Pleasant to Know Mr Lear’
He wrote to remind you my dear
His Book of Nonsense
with funny contents
Has spread the limerick oh dear
Reblogged this on Blue Ridge Vintage and commented:
Happy Friday! Here’s some crazy limericks from Edward Lear’s 1846 Book of Nonsense.
Oh no! You’ve got me doing it now.
There once was a critic called Ruskin
Who made Jimmy Whistler go buskin’
“Hand on my heart,
this is not Art.
Nocturnes can go in the dustbin.”
There are more literary limericks on my blog.
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A glaring omission addressed, LOL!
A hobbledehoy, ‘Tony Trollope
Went to Ireland to hunt at a gallop
He wrote about Pallisers
And the Jilt, Alice Vavasor
He said critics were talking cadswallop
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This looks very fun. I wonder if anyone will do the same for the likes of J. K. Rowling, P. L. James, Stephenie Meyer, Nicholas Sparks, and James Patterson?
Reblogged this on Verses and Visuals and commented:
These limericks by Interesting Literature…
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Reblogged this on Paul Karam Kassab 3.
Reblogged this on Cake,Tea,and Writing.
Edward Lear-ical….spherical…miracle. Let you imagination do the rest.
Brilliant and funny! Thank you so much for posting this.
Brilliant. Really enjoyed this :-)
Reblogged this on Books, Movies, and More and commented:
This is hilarious. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect, because I’m taking Victorian Literature this semester.
Brontë and Thackeray easily have the best ones. I’d craft my own, but I don’t think I’ve the brain power for it this morning!