37 Facts About Charles Lamb


Charles Lamb was an English essayist, poet, and antiquarian, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children's book Tales from Shakespeare, co-authored with his sister, Mary Lamb.


Friends with such literary luminaries as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, and William Hazlitt, Lamb was at the centre of a major literary circle in England.


Charles Lamb had an elder brother, John, and sister, Mary; four other siblings did not survive infancy.


John Lamb was a lawyer's clerk and spent most of his professional life as the assistant to a barrister named Samuel Salt, who lived in the Inner Temple in the legal district of London; it was there, in Crown Office Row, that Charles Lamb was born and spent his youth.


Charles Lamb created a portrait of his father in his "Elia on the Old Benchers" under the name Lovel.


Charles Lamb's older brother was too much his senior to be a youthful companion to the boy but his sister Mary, being born eleven years before him, was probably his closest playmate.


Charles Lamb was cared for by his paternal aunt Hetty, who seems to have had a particular fondness for him.


However, Charles Lamb speaks fondly of her and her presence in the house seems to have brought a great deal of comfort to him.


Lucas suggests that sometime in 1781 Charles Lamb left Mrs Reynolds and began to study at the Academy of William Bird.


Years later, in his essay "Christ's Hospital Five and Thirty Years Ago", Charles Lamb described these events, speaking of himself in the third person as "L".


Charles Lamb's friends lived in town, and were near at hand; and he had the privilege of going to see them, almost as often as he wished, through some invidious distinction, which was denied to us.


Charles Lamb seemed to have escaped much of this brutality, in part because of his amiable personality and in part because Samuel Salt, his father's employer and Charles Lamb's sponsor at the school, was one of the institute's governors.


Charles Lamb had a stutter and this "inconquerable impediment" in his speech deprived him of Grecian status at Christ's Hospital, thus disqualifying him for a clerical career.


Charles Lamb would continue to work there for 25 years, until his retirement with pension.


In 1792 while tending to his grandmother, Mary Field, in Hertfordshire, Charles Lamb fell in love with a young woman named Ann Simmons.


The essays "Dream Children", "New Year's Eve", and several others, speak of the many years that Charles Lamb spent pursuing his love that ultimately failed.


Miss Simmons eventually went on to marry a silversmith and Charles Lamb called the failure of the affair his "great disappointment".


Mary Charles Lamb's illness was more severe than her brother's, and it led her to become aggressive on a fatal occasion.


Charles Lamb took the kitchen knife she had been holding, unsheathed it, and approached her mother, who was sitting down.


Charles Lamb ran into the house soon after the murder and took the knife out of Mary's hand.


Later in the evening, Charles Lamb found a local place for Mary in a private mental facility called Fisher House, which had been found with the help of a doctor friend of his.


Charles Lamb is at present in a mad house, from whence I fear she must be moved to an hospital.


Charles Lamb took over responsibility for Mary after refusing his brother John's suggestion that they have her committed to a public lunatic asylum.


Charles Lamb used a large part of his relatively meagre income to keep his beloved sister in the private "madhouse" in Islington.


In 1800, Mary's illness came back and Charles Lamb had to take her back again to the asylum.


Charles Lamb, having been to school with Samuel Coleridge, counted Coleridge as perhaps his closest, and certainly his oldest, friend.


In London, Charles Lamb became familiar with a group of young writers who favoured political reform, including Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Hazlitt, Leigh Hunt and William Hone.


Charles Lamb continued to clerk for the East India Company and doubled as a writer in various genres, his tragedy, John Woodvil, being published in 1802.


Charles Lamb's collected essays, under the title Essays of Elia, were published in 1823.


When Charles read the review, entitled "The Progress of Infidelity", he was filled with indignation, and wrote a letter to his friend Bernard Barton, where Lamb declared he hated the review, and emphasised that his words "meant no harm to religion".


The funeral was confined only to the family of the writer, so Charles Lamb was prevented from attending and only wrote a letter to Rev James Gilman, a very close [word missing], expressing his condolences.


On 27 December 1834, Charles Lamb died of a streptococcal infection, erysipelas, contracted from a minor graze on his face sustained after slipping in the street; he was 59.


Charles Lamb's poems garnered little attention and are seldom read today.


Besides contributing to Shakespeare's reception with his and his sister's book Tales From Shakespeare, Charles Lamb contributed to the recovery of acquaintance with Shakespeare's contemporaries.


Immersion in seventeenth-century authors, such as Robert Burton and Sir Thomas Browne, changed the way Charles Lamb wrote, adding a distinct flavour to his writing style.


The most famous of these early essays is "The Londoner", in which Charles Lamb famously derides the contemporary fascination with nature and the countryside.


Charles Lamb plays an important role in the plot of Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows's novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.