A double life : a biography of Charles and Mary Lamb


    • Burton, Sarah


A double life : a biography of Charles and Mary Lamb

Sarah Burton

Viking, 2003

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Includes bibliographical references (p. 384-389) and index



The little known story of the inseparable brother and sister, lights of the Romantic circle, privately haunted by madness Wordsworth thought that if there were such a thing as a good man, it would be Charles Lamb, while Hazlitt believed Mary Lambto be the only sensible woman he knew. The couple's literary reputation rested partly on the famous Tales from Shakespeare. And yet there was an unhappier side: Charles was an alcoholic and Mary, in an attack of insanity, stabbed their mother to death. This fascinating account reaches to the heart of early nineteenth century London, meeting its eccentrics and its literary giants. It also visits the city's darker corners, where poverty stalks rented rooms and madhouses conceal terrible abuse.


  • Polly and Charley
  • the schoolboy and the mantua-maker
  • the salutation and the cat
  • friend-confessor, brother-confessor
  • Lloyd and Southey
  • toad and frog
  • the critic and the playwright
  • toothache and gumboil
  • friends and confessions
  • crimes and horrors
  • C.L. and co.
  • Bridget and Elia
  • Emma and the end.

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