Born 12 May 1812 in the London suburb of Holloway, Edward Lear
was the twentieth of twenty-one children (and youngest to survive) of Ann
Skerrett Lear and Jeremiah Lear, a stockbroker. Many of the Lear offspring did
not live beyond infancy, so Edward’s very survival had something of the
fortuitous about it. Even though he lived to be seventy-five, his health was
always delicate; he had poor eyesight and suffered from chronic respiratory
problems. At the age of five he experienced his first epileptic seizure. For
Lear this “Demon,” as he dubbed his affliction, was a mark of shame.
Much of his self-imposed isolation from those he loved derived from his need to
hide his condition from them. (From the Poetry Foundation website.)