Edward Lear: The Cretan Journal

Edward Lear, Katholiko, Crete (1864) watercolour, private collection.

Edward Lear: The Cretan Journal, edited with Introduction and Notes by Rowena Fowler (Denise Harvey, third edition, 2012). 

Edward Lear visited Crete in April and May 1864. This journal, written in Lear's own inimitable style, offers a detailed commentary on his travels through the island.  He records the landscape of Crete and the ups and downs, physical and mental, of an artist travelling on foot over difficult terrain. This text is the original diary and not an emended and ‘polished’ version prepared by Lear for publication, and so it possesses a spontaneity sometimes missing from his other travel books. Similarly, the majority of the original drawings as reproduced in this book, which were not intended for publication or sale, have a lightness and freshness that capture the outlines and colours of the landscape. The journal gives us a delightful glimpse of the personality and art of Edward Lear, and of the now-vanished world of Ottoman Crete.

For a full listing of Lear's Cretan drawings (which number nearly two hundred) and for more information about his 1864 tour see the website Edward Lear and Crete, maintained by Stephen Duckworth.