A Double Life: A Biography of Charles and Mary Lamb

Lamb had a little Mary

Historians of Romanticism have sniffed at Lamb, but he was correspondingly mistrustful of Romanticism, confessing that he was 'not romance-bit about Nature'. More important to him were the sights and sounds of the city: Lamb was 'romance-bit' about London, and told Wordsworth that he didn't much care if he never saw a mountain in his life: As Sarah Burton points out in her entertaining new biography of Charles and Mary Lamb, this hostility to dead nature was not just a badge of London pride, 'but a critical reaction to a central tenet of the Romantic project'.

While Wordsworth and Coleridge were working up an association between the natural landscape and the unspoilt regions of the human heart, Lamb was immersing himself in London society, with all its ironies and inebriations. He was a habitual theatregoer and party-goer and a generous host - he once offered to reimburse a guest who had bought one of his books. He and Mary longed to hear a knock on their door on lonely evenings.

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Heaven, for him, was other people, and the distractions his 'ragged regiment' of friends brought from his own dejection. It's not surprising that Charles got depressed - when he was 21, his sister killed his mother. But Mary suffered bouts of insanity and Charles was an alcoholic, conditions brought on by a terrible family event that cast a long shadow over their lives.

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A work of serious scholarship, particularly good on the early treatment of madness, with plenty of footnotes yet also eminently readable. And the terrible event, while no great secret, is still shocking more than years later. She lives near Ely in Cambridgeshire.

A Double Life

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Learn more about Amazon Prime. Charles and Mary Lamb were part of London's famous literary network in the early 19th century. But they were also siblings tied together by a horrific event. In September , Mary murdered her mother with a carving knife during a fit of insanity as the family prepared for dinner.

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Vanessa rated it liked it Apr 25, Paul added it May 03, Maddy marked it as to-read Dec 28, To ask other readers questions about A Double Life , please sign up. Return to Book Page. Sarah Burton's approach to this pivotal episode in their life is refreshingly upbeat. He was the proof and touchstone of all my cogitations.

Charles, who was only 21 at the time, took it upon himself to care for his sister throughout her life as she swung between sanity and madness. Meanwhile, Charles also suffered from severe depressions and alcoholism and at one point had to admit himself to the Hoxton madhouse.

This account of Charles and Mary Lamb reaches to the heart of early 19th-century London, meeting its eccentrics and its literary giants. It also visits the city's darker corners, where poverty stalked rented rooms and madhouses concealed terrible abuse. Read more Read less. Customers who viewed this item also viewed. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1.

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Lunacy and Murder in Literary London. Tales From Shakespeare Signet Classics. Charles and Mary Lamb. Sponsored products related to this item What's this? But they were also siblings tied together by a horrific event. In September , Mary murdered her mother with a carving knife during a fit of insanity as the family prepared for dinner.

Charles, who was only 21 at the time, took it upon himself to care for his sister throughout Charles and Mary Lamb were part of London's famous literary network in the early 19th century. Charles, who was only 21 at the time, took it upon himself to care for his sister throughout her life as she swung between sanity and madness.

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Meanwhile, Charles also suffered from severe depressions and alcoholism and at one point had to admit himself to the Hoxton madhouse. This account of Charles and Mary Lamb reaches to the heart of early 19th-century London, meeting its eccentrics and its literary giants. It also visits the city's darker corners, where poverty stalked rented rooms and madhouses concealed terrible abuse.

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To ask other readers questions about A Double Life , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Apr 17, Ed rated it really liked it. Charles and Mary Lamb, brother and sister, achieved some literary distinction in early nineteenth century England.

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She was afflicted with what we would now likely diagnose as Bipolar Disorder [killing their mother during her first attack: One finds beautiful descriptions of what it was like for friends to listen to Mary as she entered an episode of illness and intriguing details about the treatment of mental illness such as the fact that Charles and Mary owned a straitjacket which the took with them when they traveled in case she became ill.

Burton is a very thoughtful biographer making this book a pleasure to read.

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Charles and Mary Lamb were part of London's famous literary network in the early 19th century. But they were also siblings tied together by a horrific event. A Double Life by Sarah Burton. The little known story of the inseparable brother and sister, lights of the Romantic ci.

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