Synopses & Reviews
An in-depth look into the life of Romantic essayist Charles Lamb and the legacy of his work
A pioneer of urban Romanticism, essayist Charles Lamb (1775-1834) found inspiration in London's markets, theaters, prostitutes, and bookshops. He prized the city's literary scene, too, where he was a star wit. He counted among his admirers Mary Shelley, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His friends valued in his conversation what distinguished his writing style: a highly original blend of irony, whimsy, and melancholy.
Eric G. Wilson captures Lamb's strange charm in this meticulously researched and engagingly written biography. He demonstrates how Lamb's humor helped him cope with a life-defining tragedy: in a fit of madness, his sister Mary murdered their mother. Arranging to care for her himself, Lamb saved her from the gallows. Delightful when sane, Mary became Charles's muse, and she collaborated with him on children's books. In exploring Mary's presence in Charles's darkly comical essays, Wilson also shows how Lamb reverberates in today's experimental literature.