Charles Lamb

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Charles Lamb
BirthplaceInner Temple, London, England
Known for Essays of Elia. Tales from Shakespeare

Lamb, Charles,

1775–1834, English essayist, b. London. He went to school at Christ's Hospital, where his lifelong friendship with Coleridge began. Lamb was a clerk at the India House from 1792 to 1825. In 1796 his sister Mary Ann Lamb (1764–1847) in a fit of temporary insanity attacked and wounded their father and stabbed and killed their mother. Lamb had himself declared her guardian to save her from permanent commitment to an asylum, and after 1799 they lived together. Mary was an intelligent and affectionate companion, but the shadow of her madness continued to plague their lives. They collaborated on several books for children, publishing in 1807 their famous Tales from Shakespeare. Lamb wrote four plays, none of which were successful. However, his dramatic essays, Specimens of English Dramatic Poets (1808), established his reputation as a critic and did much in reviving the popularity of Elizabethan drama. From 1800 on he wrote intermittently for periodicals, the major contribution being the famous Essays of Elia (London Magazine, 1820–25), which were collected in 1823 and 1833. The essays cover a variety of subjects and maintain throughout an intimate and familiar tone. Lamb's style is peculiarly his own. His close-knit, subtle organization, his self-revealing observations on life, and his humor, fantasy, and pathos combine to make him one of the great masters of the English essay. Lamb was a gifted conversationalist and was friendly with most of the major literary figures of his time.


See his Life, Letters and Writings, ed. by P. Fitzgerald (1895, repr. 1971); E. W. Marrs, Jr., ed., The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb (3 vol., 1975–78); biographies by A. Ainger (1901, repr. 1970), E. V. Lucas (1968), D. Cecil (1984), and B. Cornwall (2003); biography of Mary Anne Lamb by S. T. Hitchcock (2004); studies by E. Blunden (1954; 1933, repr. 1967), J. E. Riehl (1980), and G. Monsman (1984 and 2003).

Lamb, Charles


Born Feb. 10, 1775, in London; died Dec. 27, 1834, in Edmonton. English writer. Son of a clerk.

Lamb graduated from a London school for the poor. His first sonnets were published anonymously in 1796. Lamb’s Blank Verse (1798, with C. Lloyd) contained one of his most famous poems, The Old Familiar Faces (Russian translations by M. L. Mikhailov and A. N. Pleshcheev). Tales From Shakespeare, which he wrote with his sister, Mary (1807; Russian translation, 1865), were retellings for children of Shakespeare’s plays.

Lamb contributed to many literary journals; his essays written under the pseudonym Elia (vol. 1, 1823; vol. 2, 1833) depicted the London poor with romantic imagination and warm humor.


Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 2, issue 1. Moscow, 1953.
D’iakonova, N, la. Londonskie romantiki iprobleme angliiskogo romantizma. Leningrad, 1970.
Lucas, E. V. Life of Charles Lamb, vols. 1-2. London, 1921.
References in periodicals archive ?
Charles Lamb, The Letters of Charles Lamb to which are added those of his sister Mary Lamb, ed.
Spellbinding London: Charles Lamb, 'Elia,' and the Old Country House.
IT is PRECISELY this lived-in dimension that is made obsolete by "electronic text," of course, and we can only speculate that Charles Lamb would not approve in the slightest.
Her younger brother, Charles Lamb, became her guardian, the siblings lived together and later they even adopted an orphan.
Peter Shapiro, who helped the perpetually sceney Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg become a venue for live music, struck up a partnership with the old theater in Port Chester–designed by Charles Lamb in 1926–to once again host live music.
Some of the more deeply shocking biographical accounts include those of poet and essayist Charles Lamb pulling the knife away from his mentally ill sister after she had stabbed their mother to death at the dinner table, and Conrad Aiken, who found his parents' bodies after his father murdered his mother and then suicided.
Hull's Charles Lamb, Elia and the London Magazine argues for a reconsideration of the Elia-essays that takes into consideration their specifically metropolitan character, and their position in what Hull calls "periodical text," two subjects against which traditional romantic scholarship tended to be biased.
Humble men in company; the unlikely friendship of Charles Lamb and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Yes, the name Charles Lamb comes up regularly in crossword puzzles and that is likely the source of the error--my sincere apologizes to Charlie Lomas.
For Romantic writers such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey, and Charles Lamb, addiction leads to what modern-day addicts and recovery specialists often call 'terminal uniqueness', a feeling of isolation and 'personal exceptionalism' that is both incommunicable to others and incapable of being heard by a 'normal', non-addicted audience.
But some of the most intriguing passages were those written about Wales by English commentators, including illustrious ones like Shakespeare, Milton, Shelley and Charles Lamb.