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Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb (1775-1834) and his elder sister Mary Anne (1764-1847) were born into a poor clerk's family in London and they continued to be plagued by troubles and poverty throughout their lives. In the evenings, however, the Lamb household could forget its poverty. Charles was blessed with a great and notorious sense of humor and, though cursed with an awful stammer, and he also liked to drink and intermingle with friends. Charles and Mary's household was the center of a small group of literary and intellectual figures, of whom the most famous was Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who had met Charles at school. For these few hours, they could forget their troubles in the company of their friends and in writing.

And they certainly had plenty of troubles. By 1795, a streak of insanity was beginning to show. First, in the winter of 1795, Charles spent a few weeks in an asylum, but the major tragedy was to follow the next year. Mary got into an argument with a servant-girl and threatened her with a knife. When her parents tried to intervene, Mary stabbed them both. Her father was only slightly hurt, but she struck her mother fatally though the heart. The court judged her insane and Mary spent about a year in a lunatic asylum before being released into Charles' care. However, further periods of confinement were to follow throughout her life. Moreover, her reputation as a murderess pursued her, and the Lambs often had to move house because of malicious gossiping.

Meanwhile, Charles tried his hand at writing poetry and plays, but the results were invariably poor. Once, in fact, he joined the audience in hissing one of his plays off the stage, perhaps to disguise the fact that he was the author! His great success individually came later in life with the adult Essays of Elia (1823), which are accounted among the best essays ever written in the English language. However, he is most famous for his partnership with his sister which produced (among other indifferent works) the brilliant Tales from Shakespeare (1807). This was the first book to clarify Shakespeare's stories and it has never been superseded.

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4 Items found
Tales from Shakespeare
by Charles Lamb, Mary Lamb
from Wordsworth Classics
Shakespeare Stories for 3rd-8th grade
in Classics Retold (Location: A10-03A)
Tales from Shakespeare
Puffin Classics
by Charles & Mary Lamb
from Puffin Books
Shakespeare Stories for 3rd-8th grade
in Classics Retold (Location: A10-03A)
Tales from Shakespeare
Junior Deluxe Editions
by Charles & Mary Lamb
from Grosset & Dunlap
for 3rd-8th grade
in Classics Retold (Location: A10-03A)
Tales from Shakespeare
by Richard Armour
from Penguin Classics
for 7th-12th grade
in Renaissance & Reformation Literature (Location: CLT-REN)