Labour Research February 2012


The limerickiad: volume 1: Gilgamesh to Shakespeare

Martin Rowson, Smokestack Books, hardback, £9.99

If you feel the need for some chuckles to dissipate the winter gloom, then this book, by award-winning cartoonist and writer Martin Rowson, is for you. It brings together the story of world literature. In limericks.

With scrupulous regard to the rigours of the limerick form, Rowson, whose work frequently appears in The Guardian and The Independent, has endeavoured to encapsulate humankind’s fascination with the written word in all its forms, whether poetry, drama or prose — as a series of bad jokes, cheap puns, strained scansion, excruciatingly contrived rhymes and pure filth.

Now collected together for the first time, The limerickiad: volume 1 takes us from the Sumerian classic Gilgamesh, to the Complete works of Shakespeare, with both verse and illustration displaying Rowson’s reverence for the original texts.

The limerickiad promises to do for literature what 1066 and all that, the tongue-in-cheek reworking of the history of England, did for history.

Reviews contributed by the Bookmarks socialist bookshop. Order online at