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Ronnie Barker's Edward Lear book fetches £3,600 at auction

By EchoWilko  |  Posted: June 21, 2012

  • Annotated by Ronnie Barker

  • Collector John Watts

  • One of Ronnie's amendments

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A COLLECTION of Edward Lear poems edited by comedian Ronnie Barker smashed its guide price at auction in the county today.

The Book of Nonsense fetched £3,600 when it went under the hammer at Dominic Winter salerooms, in South Cerney, near Cirencester.

Ronnie had adapted the limericks by changing the final line of each.

His editing showed a distaste for Lear’s style of using the same word to finish the first and fifth stanza.

Each of the changes was made in the famous comedian’s own handwriting and many were signed with his initials ‘RB’, inside a circle.

He even wrote his own poem in which he described Lear as a fossil and said his verses were ‘boring and drear’.

He ends with the line: “So I’ve tried to improve them here.”

Experts had expected the tome to go for between £1,000 and £1,500.

Accounts manager Sarah Ball said: “The estimate was a lot lower, but it went way above.

“There was clearly a lot of interest in the book from the floor.”

The changes to the famous 19th century work are thought to have been made long after Ronnie’s retirement in 2001 - just four years prior to his death.

A collector in Somerset, John Watts, discovered the book in a collection.

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