LAMB, CHARLES (1775–1834), essayist and humourist, was born on 10 Feb. 1775 in Crown Office Row in the Temple, London. His father, John Lamb, who is described under the name of Lovel in Charles Lamb's essay ‘The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple,’ was the son of poor parents in Lincolnshire, and had come up as a boy to London and entered domestic service. He ultimately became clerk and servant to Samuel Salt, a bencher of the Inner Temple, and continued to fill that position until Salt's death in 1792. He married Elizabeth Field, whose mother was for more than fifty years housekeeper at Blakesware in Hertfordshire, a few miles from Ware, a dower-house of the Plumers, a well-known county family. This Mary Field, Charles Lamb's grandmother, played an important part in the early development of his affections, and is a familiar presence in some of the most characteristic and pathetic of his writings.
To John and Elizabeth Lamb, in Crown Office Row, were born a family of seven children, of whom only three survived their infancy. The eldest of these three was John Lamb, born in 1763; the second Mary Ann, better known as Mary, born in 1764; and the third Charles, baptised 10 March 1775 ‘by the Rev. Mr. Jeffs.’ The baptisms of the entire family duly appear in the registers of the Temple Church, and were first printed by Mr. Charles Kent in his ‘Centenary Edition of Lamb's Works’ in 1875.
The block of buildings in which Samuel Salt occupied one or more sets of chambers, and in which the Lamb family were born and reared, is at the eastern end of Crown Office Row, and though considerably modified since in its interior arrangements, still bears upon its outer wall the date 1737.
Charles Lamb received his earliest education at a humble day-school kept by a Mr. William Bird in a court leading out of Fetter Lane (see Lamb's paper, ‘Captain Starkey,’ in Hone'sEvery-day Book, 21 July 1826). It was a school for both boys and girls, and Mary Lamb also attended it. At the age of seven Charles obtained a nomination to Christ's Hospital (the ‘Blue Coat School’), through the influence of his father's employer, and within its venerable walls he passed the next seven years of his life, his holidays being spent with his parents in the Temple or with his grandmother, Mrs. Field, in Hertfordshire.
What Charles Lamb learned at Christ's Hospital, what friendships he formed, and what merits and demerits he detected in the arrangements, manners, and customs of the school, are all familiar to us from the two remarkable essays he has left us, ‘On Christ's Hospital, and the Character of the Christ's Hospital Boys,’ published in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ in 1813, and the later essay ‘Christ's Hospital Five-and-thirty Years Ago,’ one of the Elia series, in the ‘London Magazine’ of November 1820. On the whole he seems to have been happy in the school, and to have acquired considerable skill in its special studies, notably in Latin, which he was fond of reading, and in a rough-and-ready way writing, to the end of his life. At the time of quitting the school he had not attained the highest position, that of ‘Grecian,’ but the nearest in rank to it, that of deputy Grecian. Perhaps the school authorities were not careful to promote him to the superior rank, seeing that he was not to proceed to the university. As a Grecian Lamb would have been entitled to an exhibition, but it was understood that the privilege was intended for those who were to enter holy orders, and a fatal impediment of speech—an insurmountable and painful stutter—made that profession impossible for him even if his gifts and inclinations had pointed that way. He left Christ's Hospital in November 1789, carrying with him, among other precious possessions, the friendship of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a friendship destined to endure, and to be the main living influence upon his mind and character till the latest year of his life. Coleridge was two years Lamb's senior, and remained at the school till 1792, when he went to Cambridge.
At the date of Lamb's leaving school his elder brother John was a clerk in the South Sea House, and a humbler post in the same office was soon found for Charles through the good offices of Samuel Salt, who was a deputy-governor of the company. But early in 1792 he was appointed to a clerkship in the accountant's office of the India House, and remained a member of the staff for the next thirty years. The court minutes of the old India House record that on 5 April 1792 ‘William Savory, Charles Lamb, and Hutcher Trower’ were appointed clerks in the accountant's office on the usual terms. Another entry of three weeks later tells that the sureties required by the office were in Lamb's case Peter Peirson, esq., of the Inner Temple, and John Lamb ‘of the Inner Temple, gentleman.’ The name of Peter Peirson recalls one of the most touching passages in the essay on the ‘Old Benchers.’
Samuel Salt died in this same year, leaving various legacies and other benefactions to his faithful clerk and housekeeper. The Lamb family had accordingly to leave the Temple, and there is no record of their place of residence until 1796, when we hear of them as lodging in Little Queen Street, Holborn. The family were poor, Charles's salary, and what his sister could earn by needlework, in addition to the interest on Salt's legacies, forming their sole means of subsistence, for John Lamb the younger, a fairly prosperous gentleman, was living an independent life elsewhere. John Lamb the elder was old and sinking into dotage. The mother was an invalid, with apparently a strain of insanity. Mary Lamb was overworked, and the continued strain and anxiety began to tell upon her mind. On 22 Sept. 1796 a terrible blow fell upon the family. Mary Lamb, irritated with a little apprentice-girl who was working in the family sitting-room, snatched a knife from the table, pursued the child round the room, and finally stabbed her mother, who had interposed in the girl's behalf. The wound was instantly fatal, Charles being at hand only in time to wrest the knife from his sister and prevent further mischief. An inquest was held and a verdict found of temporary insanity. Mary Lamb would have been in the ordinary course transferred to a public lunatic asylum, but interest was made with the authorities, and she was given into the custody of her brother, then only just of age, who undertook to be her guardian, an office which he discharged under the gravest difficulties and discouragements for the remainder of his life. Mrs. Lamb was buried in the graveyard of St. Andrew's, Holborn, on 26 Sept. 1796, and Charles Lamb, with his imbecile father and an old Aunt Hetty, who formed one of the household, left Little Queen Street. (The house no longer stands, having been removed with others to make room for a church, which now stands on its site.) The family removed to 45 Chapel Street, Pentonville, with the exception of Mary, who was placed under suitable care at Hackney, where Charles could frequently visit her. In February 1797 old Aunt Hetty died, and Charles was left as the solitary guardian of his father until the latter's death in 1799.
The letters of Charles Lamb, through which his life may be henceforth studied, open with a correspondence with Coleridge, beginning in May 1796. The earliest of these letters records how Charles Lamb himself had been for six weeks in the winter of 1795–6 in an asylum for some form of mental derangement, which, however, seems never to have recurred. It is likely that this tendency was inherited from the mother, and that moreover the immediate cause, in this case, may have been a love disappointment. This at least is certain, that already Charles Lamb had lost his heart to a girl living not far from Blakesware, his grandmother's home in Hertfordshire. The earliest intimation of the fact is afforded by the existence of two sonnets which Lamb submits to Coleridge in 1796 as having been written by him in the summer of 1795 (see Lamb's Letters, i. 4). Both poems refer to Hertfordshire, and the second distinctly reveals an attachment to a ‘gentle maid’ named Anna, who had lived in a ‘cottage,’ and with whom ‘in happier days’ he had held free converse, days which, however, ‘ne'er must come again.’ At that early date, therefore, it is clear that the course of love had not run smooth, and it is reasonable to connect Lamb's mental breakdown in the following winter with this cause. A year later, in writing to Coleridge after his mother's death, he speaks of his attachment as a folly that has left him for ever. All that is certain of this episode in Lamb's life is that the girl's name was Ann Simmons, that she lived with her mother in a cottage called Blenheims, within a mile of Blakesware House, and that she ultimately married a Mr. Bartram, a silversmith, of Princes Street, Leicester Square (she is mentioned under that name in the essay ‘Dream Children’). Thus far all is certain. The whole pedigree of the Simmons family is in the present writer's possession, but an old inhabitant of Widford (the village adjoining Blakesware), and intimate friend of the Lambs, from whom he obtained it, had never heard of the circumstances attending Lamb's unsuccessful wooing.
In the spring of 1796 Coleridge made his earliest appearance as a poet in a small volume published by Cottle of Bristol, ‘Poems on Various Subjects, by S. T. Coleridge, late of Jesus College, Cambridge,’ and among these were four sonnets by Lamb. ‘The effusions signed C. L. were written by Mr. Charles Lamb of the India House. Independently of the signature, their superior merit would have sufficiently distinguished them.’ Two of these sonnets refer also to Anna with the fair hair and the blue eyes. This was Lamb's first appearance in print. The sonnets are chiefly remarkable as reflecting the diction and the graceful melancholy of William Lisle Bowles [q. v.], whose sonnets had in a singular degree influenced and inspired both Lamb and Coleridge while they were still at Christ's Hospital. A year later, in 1797, Coleridge produced a second edition of his poems, ‘To which are now added Poems by Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd’ (1775–1839) [q.v.] . Among these were included the ‘Anna’ sonnets, and the lines entitled ‘The Grandame,’ written on his grandmother, Mrs. Field, who had died at Blakesware in 1792. (These latter had already appeared in print, in a handsome quarto, with certain others of Charles Lloyd's.)
In the summer of 1797 Lamb devoted his short holiday (only one week) to a visit to Coleridge at Nether Stowey, where he made the acquaintance of Thomas Poole [q. v.], and met Wordsworth and others (see Mrs. Sandford, Thomas Poole and his Friends; and Lamb's Letters, i. 79). The following year, 1798, saw the publication of a thin volume, ‘Blank Verse, by Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd,’ containing the touching verses on the ‘Old Familiar Faces.’ Later appeared Lamb's prose romance, ‘A Tale of Rosamund Gray and Old Blind Margaret,’ a story of sentiment written under the influence of Mackenzie, and having the scene laid in Lamb's favourite village of Widford in Hertfordshire. During this year Cottle of Bristol had a portrait taken of Lamb by Hancock, an engraving of which appeared many years later in Cottle's ‘Recollections of Coleridge.’ This is the earliest portrait of Lamb we possess. In November 1798 Coleridge, with Wordsworth and his sister, left England for Germany, and for the next eighteen months Lamb was thrown for literary sympathy upon other friends, notably on Southey, with whom he began a frequent correspondence. In these letters Lamb's individuality of style and humour became first markedly apparent.
In the spring of 1799 Lamb's father died, and Mary Lamb returned to live with her brother, from whom she was never again parted, except during occasional returns of her malady. But rumours of this malady followed them wherever they went. They had notice to quit their rooms in Pentonville in the spring of 1799, and they were accepted as tenants for a while by Lamb's old schoolfellow, John Mathew Gutch [q. v.], then a law-stationer in Southampton Buildings, Holborn. Here they remained for nine months, but the old difficulties arose, and the brother and sister were again homeless. Lamb then turned to the familiar precincts of the Temple, and took rooms at the top of King's Bench Walk (Mitre Court Buildings), where he remained with his sister for nearly nine years. They then removed to Inner Temple Lane for a period of another nine years.
Lamb's letters to Thomas Manning [q. v.], the mathematician and orientalist, and to Coleridge on his return from Germany, begin at the date of his settling in the Temple, and continue the story of his life. Manning's acquaintance he had made at Cambridge while visiting Charles Lloyd. Lamb now began to add to his scanty income by writing for the newspapers (see his Elia essay, Newspapers Thirty-five Years Ago). He contributed for some three years facetious paragraphs and epigrams to the ‘Morning Post,’ ‘Morning Chronicle,’ and the ‘Albion.’ In 1802 he published his ‘John Woodvil,’ a blank-verse play of the Restoration period, but showing markedly the influence of Massinger and Beaumont and Fletcher, full of felicitous lines, but crude and undramatic. It was reviewed in the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ April 1803, not unfairly, but ignorantly. The Elizabethan dramatists were still sealed books save to the antiquary and the specialist. Meantime Charles and Mary Lamb were struggling with poverty, and with worse enemies. Lamb's journalistic and literary associates made demands on his hospitality, and good company brought its temptations. In 1804 Mary Lamb writes that they are ‘very poor,’ and that Charles is trying in various ways to earn money. He was still dreaming of possible dramatic successes, but these were not to be. In 1803 he sends Manning his well-known verses on Hester Savory, a young quakeress with whom he had fallen in love, though without her knowledge, when he lived (1797–1800) at Pentonville, and who had recently died a few months after her marriage. In September 1805 he is still thinking of dramatic work, and has a farce in prospect. The project took shape in the two-act farce, ‘Mr. H.,’ accepted by the proprietors of Drury Lane, and produced on 10 Dec. The secret of Mr. H.'s real name (Hogsflesh) seemed trivial and vulgar to the audience, and in spite of Elliston's best efforts, the farce was hopelessly damned. Lamb was himself present, and next day recorded the failure by letter to several of his friends. He now turned to a wider field of work in connection with the drama. He made Hazlitt's acquaintance in 1805, and Hazlitt introduced him to William Godwin, who had turned children's publisher. For Godwin Lamb and his sister agreed to write the ‘Tales from Shakespeare,’ published in January 1807, a second edition following in the next year. Lamb did the tragedies and Mary the comedies. This was Lamb's first success, and first brought him into serious notice. It was followed by a child's version of the adventures of Ulysses, made from Chapman's translation of the ‘Odyssey,’ for Lamb's knowledge of Greek was moderate. This appeared in 1808. A much more important work was at hand. The publishing house of Longmans commissioned him to edit selections from the Elizabethan dramatists. This also appeared in 1808, under the title of ‘Specimens of English Dramatic Poets contemporary with Shakespeare.’ Lamb was at once recognised as a critic of the highest order, and of a kind as yet unknown to English literature, and from this time forward his position as a prose writer of marked originality was secure among the more thoughtful of his contemporaries, though it was not till some ten years later that he reached the general public. Between 1808 and 1818 his chief critical productions were the two noble essays on Hogarth and on the tragedies of Shakespeare, published in Leigh Hunt's ‘Reflector’ in 1811, while the ‘Recollections of Christ's Hospital,’ in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ of 1813, and the ‘Confessions of a Drunkard,’ contributed to his friend Basil Montagu's ‘Some Enquiries into the Effects of Fermented Liquors’ in 1814, were the first specimens of the miscellaneous essay in the vein he was to work later, with such success, in the ‘Essays of Elia.’ Meantime he was strengthening his position and widening his interests by new and stimulating friendships, Talfourd, Proctor, Crabb Robinson, Haydon, and others appearing among his correspondents, while the old relations with the Wordsworths and Coleridge remained among the best influences of his life.
In the autumn of 1817 Lamb and his sister left the Temple for lodgings in Great Russell Street, Covent Garden. Soon after a young bookseller, Charles Ollier, induced him to publish a collection of his miscellaneous writings in verse and prose, including some, like ‘John Woodvil’ and ‘Rosamund Gray,’ long out of print. These appeared in two volumes, dedicated to Coleridge, in 1818, and at once obtained for Lamb a wider recognition. A more important result was to follow. The ‘London Magazine’ made its first appearance in January 1820. Hazlitt, who was on the staff, introduced Lamb to the editor, John Scott, and he was invited to contribute occasional essays. The first of these, ‘Recollections of the South Sea House,’ appeared in August 1820. In writing the essay, Lamb remembered an obscure clerk in that office during his own short connection with it as a boy, of the name of Elia, and as a joke appended that name to the essay. In subsequent essays he continued the same signature, which became inseparably connected with the series (see letter of Lamb to his publisher, John Taylor, in July 1821). ‘Call him Ellia,’ writes Lamb, and it seems probable that the name was really thus spelled. Between August 1820 and December 1822 Lamb contributed five-and-twenty essays, thus signed, at the rate of about one a month. These were reprinted in a single volume in 1823: ‘Elia—Essays that have appeared under that signature in the “London Magazine.”’
Meantime, Lamb's elder brother John had died (November 1821), and to the increasing loneliness of his existence we owe the beautiful essay, ‘Dream Children.’ In 1822 Charles and his sister for the first time went abroad, paying a short visit to their friend James Kenney [q. v.] the dramatist, who lived at Versailles, and whose son, born in 1823, was christened Charles Lamb Kenney [q. v.] During this absence from England Mary Lamb had one of her now more frequent attacks of mental derangement. The next year brought a new anxiety into Lamb's life, in the form of a criticism from the pen of an old friend on the ‘Elia’ volume of 1823. Southey, in reviewing a work by Grégoire upon deism in France, drew a moral from the hopeless tone of one of Lamb's essays—that on ‘Witches and other Night Fears’—adding that the essays as a whole lacked a ‘sound religious feeling.’ The charge pained Lamb keenly, both as coming from an old friend and as touching a vein of real sorrow and anxiety in his mental history. He replied to the charge in the well-known ‘Letter of Elia to Robert Southey, Esq.,’ in the ‘London Magazine’ for October 1823. Southey, in reply, wrote a loving and generous letter of explanation to Lamb, and the breach between the old friends was at once healed. The same year that brought Lamb this distress was to bring compensation in a new interest added to his life. He and his sister were in the habit of spending their autumn holiday at Cambridge, where they had a friend, Mrs. Paris, sister of Lamb's old friend, William Ayrton. Here the Lambs met a little orphan girl, Emma Isola, daughter of Charles Isola, one of the esquire bedells of the university. They invited her to spend subsequent holidays with them, and finally adopted her. During the remaining ten years of Lamb's life the companionship of the young girl supplied the truest solace and relief amid the deepening anxieties of the home life. Lamb and his sister devoted themselves to her education, and though in after years she left them at times to become herself a teacher of others, their house was her home until her marriage with Edward Moxon, the publisher, in 1833. Mrs. Moxon died in March 1891.
In August 1823 the Lambs left their rooms in Russell Street, Covent Garden, ‘over the Brazier's,’ and took a cottage in Colebrooke Row, Islington, the New River flowing at the foot of their garden. Lamb describes the house in a letter of 2 Sept. to Bernard Barton [q.v.] , the quaker poet of Woodbridge, who was one of Lamb's later friends, acquired through the ‘London Magazine.’ To him many of Lamb's happiest letters are addressed. Meantime Lamb was writing more ‘Elia’ essays, though with weakening health and increasing restlessness. Already he was considering the chances of retirement from the India House, and a severe illness in the winter of 1824–5 brought the matter to an issue. His doctors urgently supported his application to the directors, and the happy result was made known to him in March 1825, when it was announced that a retiring pension would be awarded him, consisting of three-fourths of his salary, with a slight deduction to insure an allowance for his sister in the event of her surviving. ‘After thirty-three years' slavery,’ he wrote to Wordsworth, ‘here am I a freed man, with 441l. a year for the remainder of my life.’ The first use that Lamb made of his freedom was to pay visits of varying length in the country, always in the direction of his favourite Hertfordshire. The brother and sister took lodgings occasionally at the Chace, Enfield, and after two years became sole tenants of the little house. Meantime the trials of having nothing to do became very real to them both. Lamb was an excellent walker, and in the summer months he found great pleasure in exploring the scenery of Hertfordshire, with the comforting remembrance that he was still in easy touch with London and friends. But old friends were dying, and Lamb's loyal nature found little compensation in the cultivation of new ones. That devoted friend of his childhood, Mr. Randal Norris, sub-treasurer of the Inner Temple, died in January 1827, and is the subject of a pathetic letter to Crabb Robinson—‘To the last he called me Charley. I have none to call me Charley now.’ Randal Norris left two daughters, who set up a school at Widford, to which village their mother had belonged. The younger, Mrs. Arthur Tween, who was well known to the present writer, died at an advanced age at Widford in July 1891. During the few remaining years of Lamb's life it was a favourite excursion for him and Miss Isola to walk over to Widford and beg a half-holiday for the girls and tell them stories.
In 1828 Lamb obtained some literary work of a kind thoroughly congenial. He wished to assist Hone, then producing his ‘Table Book,’ and undertook to make extracts (after the model of his ‘Dramatic Specimens’ of 1808) from the Garrick plays in the British Museum. He had written also for the ‘New Monthly Magazine,’ in 1826, his essays called ‘Popular Fallacies.’ He wrote also occasional verse, and at times in his happiest and most characteristic vein, such as the lines ‘On an Infant dying as soon as born,’ written on the death of Thomas Hood's first child, in 1828. Acrostics also, and other such trifles, and album verses, became increasingly in request among his young lady friends. And in 1830, to help his friend Moxon, then newly starting as publisher, he made a collection of these, under the title of ‘Album Verses, with a few others.’ In the summer of 1829 the brother and sister had again to change their residence. Mary's health was steadily weakening, her attacks and periods of absence from home became longer, and the cares of housekeeping proved intolerable. They moved, accordingly, to the adjoining house in Enfield Chace, and boarded with a retired tradesman and his wife, a Mr. and Mrs. Westwood. The immediate effects were satisfactory, and for a while Mary Lamb seemed to improve in health and spirits. But Charles meantime became less at ease in country life. The next year brought him new distractions. Emma Isola, for whom the Lambs had found a situation as governess in Suffolk, had a serious illness, during which Lamb visited her, and finally brought her home, convalescent, to Enfield. In 1833 the Lambs moved once more, and for the last time. Mary's improvement in health had been merely temporary, and it became necessary for her to be under more skilful and constant nursing. During previous illnesses she had been placed under the care of a Mr. and Mrs. Walden, at Bay Cottage, Edmonton (the parish adjoining Enfield), and now the brother and sister moved together, to spend, as it proved, the last two years of their united lives under the Waldens' roof.
In the same year Emma Isola became engaged to Edward Moxon, and the marriage took place in July 1833, leaving Charles Lamb yet more lonely, and without social resource. The ‘Last Essays of Elia,’ mainly from the ‘London Magazine,’ were published this year by Moxon, and but for an occasional copy of verses for a friend's album, Lamb's literary career was closed. In July 1834 Coleridge died, and with this event Lamb's last surviving friend passed from him. He himself, more and more lonely and forlorn, bore his heavy burden five months longer. One day in December, while walking on the London Road, he stumbled and fell, slightly wounding his face. A few days later erysipelas supervened, and he had no strength left to battle with the disease. He passed away without pain, on 27 Dec. 1834, and was buried in Edmonton churchyard. His sister survived him nearly thirteen years, dying at Alpha Road, St. John's Wood, on 20 May 1847; she was buried beside her brother. Charles left her his savings, amounting to about 2,000l., and she was also entitled to the pension reserved to her by the terms of Lamb's retirement from the India House.
No figure in literature is better known to us than Lamb. His writings, prose and verse, are full of personal revelations. We possess a body of his correspondence, also of the most confidential kind, and his friends have left descriptions of him from almost every point of view. He numbered among his earliest friends Coleridge, Southey, Wordsworth, and among his later Proctor, Talfourd, Hood, Leigh Hunt, Hazlitt, Crabb Robinson, while many of his most characteristic letters were written to men who have attained general fame mainly through Lamb's friendship. Notable among these are Thomas Manning and Bernard Barton. No man was ever more loved by a wide and varied class of friends. His lifelong devotion to his sister, for whose sake he abjured all thoughts of marriage; the unique attachment between the pair; Lamb's unfailing loyalty to his friends, who often levied heavy taxes on his purse and leisure; his very eccentricities and petulances, including his one serious frailty—a too careless indulgence in strong drinks—excited a profound pity in those who knew the unceasing domestic difficulties which he surmounted so bravely for eight-and-thirty years. It is likely that the necessity of protecting and succouring his sister acted as a strong power over his will, and helped to preserve his sanity during the hardship of the years that followed. But one result of the taint of insanity inherited from his mother was that a very small amount of alcohol was enough at any time to throw his mind off its balance. He was afflicted, moreover, all his life with a bad stutter, and the eagerness to forget the impediment, which put him at a disadvantage in all conversations, probably further encouraged the habit. The infirmity, which has been in turn denied and exaggerated by friends and enemies, never interfered with the regular performance of his official duties, or with his domestic responsibilities.
The extant portraits of Lamb are the following: 1. By Robert Hancock of Bristol, 1798, drawn for Joseph Cottle; in the National Portrait Gallery. 2. By Wm. Hazlitt, 1805, in a fancy dress; in the National Portrait Gallery. 3. By G. F. Joseph, A.R.A., 1819; water-colour drawing made to illustrate a copy of ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers;’ in the British Museum. 4. Etching on copper by Brook Pulham, a friend of Lamb's in the India House, 1825. 5. By Henry Meyer, 1826; in the India Office: of two small replicas one is in the National Portrait Gallery and the other belongs to Sir Charles Dilke, bart., M.P. 6. By T. Wageman, 1824 or 1825; engraved in Talfourd's ‘Letters of Charles Lamb,’ 1837; in America. 7. Charles Lamb and his sister together, by F. S. Cary, 1834; in the National Portrait Gallery. 8. By Maclise, sketch in ‘Fraser's Magazine,’ 1835.
Lamb's writings published in book form are: 1. ‘Poems on Various Subjects, by S. T. Coleridge, late of Jesus College, Cambridge,’ 1796, contains four sonnets by Lamb signed ‘C. L.,’ referred to by Coleridge in his preface as by ‘Mr. Charles Lamb of the India House.’ 2. ‘Poems by S. T. Coleridge, 2nd edit., to which are now added Poems by Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd,’ 1797. 3. ‘Blank Verse by Charles Lloyd and Charles Lamb,’ 1798. 4. ‘A Tale of Rosamund Gray and Old Blind Margaret, by Charles Lamb,’ 1798. 5. ‘John Woodvil, a Tragedy, by Charles Lamb,’ &c., 1802. 6. ‘Mrs. Leicester's School,’ &c., 1807, by Charles and Mary Lamb, Charles contributing three of the stories, ‘The Witch Aunt,’ ‘First Going to Church,’ and the ‘Sea Voyage.’ 7. ‘Tales from Shakespeare, &c., by Charles Lamb,’ 1807. The bulk of the tales were written by Mary Lamb, Charles contributing the tragedies. 8. ‘The Adventures of Ulysses, by Charles Lamb,’ 1808. 9. ‘Specimens of English Dramatic Poets, with Notes by Charles Lamb,’ 1808. 10. ‘Poetry for Children, entirely original, by the author of “Mrs. Leicester's School,”’ anonymous, by Charles and Mary Lamb. The respective shares of the two writers were not indicated. A few of Lamb's verses were reprinted by him in his ‘Collected Works’ in 1818. 11. ‘Prince Dorus,’ a poetical version of an ancient tale, 1811. 12. ‘The Works of Charles Lamb,’ in 2 vols. London, 1818. 13. ‘Elia—Essays which have appeared under that signature in the “London Magazine,”’ 1823. 14. ‘Album Verses, with a few others,’ by Charles Lamb, 1830. 15. ‘Satan in Search of a Wife,’ 1831. 16. ‘The Last Essays of Elia,’ 1833. In this list are not included Lamb's occasional contributions to periodical literature, such as albums and keepsakes, prologues, and epilogues to plays, and the like, almost all of which are to be found collected in posthumous editions of his works. As to Lamb's authorship of a child's book, done for Godwin, on the fairy tale of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ there is no direct evidence, while all the indirect evidence points to an opposite conclusion.[Excepting short memoirs, which appeared after Lamb's death, by Forster, Moxon, B. Field, and others, the first biography was Talfourd's Letters of Charles Lamb, with a Sketch of his Life, 1837. After Mary Lamb's death, in 1847, Talfourd produced a supplementary volume, the Final Memorials of Charles Lamb, 1848. An independent memoir, based upon personal recollections, by Barry Cornwall—Charles Lamb, a Memoir—appeared in 1866. In 1868, and again in 1875, Talfourd's two books were reissued, digested into a continuous narrative, with many additions, prefixed to new editions of the Works, the second of these edited by Mr. Percy Fitzgerald. In 1886 Mr. W. C. Hazlitt edited afresh Talfourd's two works, again digested into one, with additions, both to the letters and Talfourd's own text. Meantime, in 1875, Mr. Charles Kent prefixed a short memoir of Lamb to Routledge's one-volume Centenary Edition of the Works, adding several new facts of interest, including a letter from Fanny Kelly regarding the essay ‘Barbara S.’ In 1882 the present writer furnished the memoir of Lamb in the Men of Letters Series, since revised and enlarged, 1888. An annotated edition of Lamb's complete Works and Correspondence, by the same writer, was published in six volumes (1883–8). Other works referring in various ways to Lamb are Cottle's Early Recollections of Coleridge, 1837; Patmore's My Friends and Acquaintances, 1854; Hood's Literary Reminiscences (Hood's Own, 1st ser.); Crabb Robinson's Diary; Leigh Hunt's Autobiography; Memoirs of W. Hazlitt; Mr. and Mrs. Cowden Clarke's Recollections of Writers; Mary Lamb, by Mrs. Gilchrist, in the Eminent Women Series. The last attempt at a complete bibliography of Lamb's writings is that by Mr. E. D. North, appended to Martin's In the Footprints of Charles Lamb, New York, 1890.]
For other uses, see Charles Lamb (disambiguation).
Charles Lamb (10 February 1775 – 27 December 1834) was an Englishessayist, 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 (1764–1847).
Friends with such literary luminaries as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and William Hazlitt, Lamb was at the centre of a major literary circle in England. He has been referred to by E. V. Lucas, his principal biographer, as "the most lovable figure in English literature".
Youth and schooling
Lamb was born in London, the son of Elizabeth Field and John Lamb. Lamb was the youngest child, with a sister 11 years older named Mary and an even older brother named John; there were four others who did not survive infancy. His father 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. Lamb created a portrait of his father in his "Elia on the Old Benchers" under the name Lovel. 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. Lamb was also cared for by his paternal aunt Hetty, who seems to have had a particular fondness for him. A number of writings by both Charles and Mary suggest that the conflict between Aunt Hetty and her sister-in-law created a certain degree of tension in the Lamb household. However, Charles speaks fondly of her and her presence in the house seems to have brought a great deal of comfort to him.
Some of Lamb's fondest childhood memories were of time spent with Mrs Field, his maternal grandmother, who was for many years a servant to the Plummer family, who owned a large country house called Blakesware, near Widford, Hertfordshire. After the death of Mrs Plummer, Lamb's grandmother was in sole charge of the large home and, as Mr Plummer was often absent, Charles had free rein of the place during his visits. A picture of these visits can be glimpsed in the Elia essay Blakesmoor in H—shire.
Why, every plank and panel of that house for me had magic in it. The tapestried bed-rooms – tapestry so much better than painting – not adorning merely, but peopling the wainscots – at which childhood ever and anon would steal a look, shifting its coverlid (replaced as quickly) to exercise its tender courage in a momentary eye-encounter with those stern bright visages, staring reciprocally – all Ovid on the walls, in colours vivider than his descriptions.
Little is known about Charles's life before he was seven other than that Mary taught him to read at a very early age and he read voraciously. It is believed that he suffered from smallpox during his early years, which forced him into a long period of convalescence. After this period of recovery Lamb began to take lessons from Mrs Reynolds, a woman who lived in the Temple and is believed to have been the former wife of a lawyer. Mrs Reynolds must have been a sympathetic schoolmistress because Lamb maintained a relationship with her throughout his life and she is known to have attended dinner parties held by Mary and Charles in the 1820s. E. V. Lucas suggests that sometime in 1781 Charles left Mrs Reynolds and began to study at the Academy of William Bird.
His time with William Bird did not last long, however, because by October 1782 Lamb was enrolled in Christ's Hospital, a charity boarding school chartered by King Edward VI in 1553. A thorough record of Christ's Hospital is to be found in several essays by Lamb as well as The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt and the Biographia Literaria of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with whom Charles developed a friendship that would last for their entire lives. Despite the school's brutality, Lamb got along well there, due in part, perhaps, to the fact that his home was not far distant, thus enabling him, unlike many other boys, to return often to its safety. Years later, in his essay "Christ’s Hospital Five and Thirty Years Ago", Lamb described these events, speaking of himself in the third person as "L".
"I remember L. at school; and can well recollect that he had some peculiar advantages, which I and other of his schoolfellows had not. His 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."
Christ's Hospital was a typical English boarding school and many students later wrote of the terrible violence they suffered there. The upper master (i.e. principal or headteacher) of the school from 1778 to 1799 was Reverend James Boyer, a man renowned for his unpredictable and capricious temper. In one famous story Boyer was said to have knocked one of Leigh Hunt's teeth out by throwing a copy of Homer at him from across the room. 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 Lamb's sponsor at the school, was one of the institute's governors.
Charles Lamb suffered from 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. While Coleridge and other scholarly boys were able to go on to Cambridge, Lamb left school at fourteen and was forced to find a more prosaic career. For a short time he worked in the office of Joseph Paice, a London merchant, and then, for 23 weeks, until 8 February 1792, held a small post in the Examiner's Office of the South Sea House. Its subsequent downfall in a pyramid scheme after Lamb left (the South Sea Bubble) would be contrasted to the company's prosperity in the first Elia essay. On 5 April 1792 he went to work in the Accountant's Office for the British East India Company, the death of his father's employer having ruined the family's fortunes. Charles would continue to work there for 25 years, until his retirement with pension (the "superannuation" he refers to in the title of one essay).
In 1792 while tending to his grandmother, Mary Field, in Hertfordshire, Charles Lamb fell in love with a young woman named Ann Simmons. Although no epistolary record exists of the relationship between the two, Lamb seems to have spent years wooing her. The record of the love exists in several accounts of Lamb's writing. "Rosamund Gray" is a story of a young man named Allen Clare who loves Rosamund Gray but their relationship comes to nothing because of her sudden death. Miss Simmons also appears in several Elia essays under the name "Alice M". The essays "Dream Children", "New Year's Eve", and several others, speak of the many years that Lamb spent pursuing his love that ultimately failed. Miss Simmons eventually went on to marry a silversmith and Lamb called the failure of the affair his "great disappointment".
Both Charles and his sister Mary suffered a period of mental illness. As he himself confessed in a letter, Charles spent six weeks in a mental facility during 1795, at the time while he was already making his name as a poet:
Coleridge, I know not what suffering scenes you have gone through at Bristol. My life has been somewhat diversified of late. The six weeks that finished last year and began this your very humble servant spent very agreeably in a mad house at Hoxton—I am got somewhat rational now, and don’t bite any one. But mad I was—and many a vagary my imagination played with me, enough to make a volume if all told. My Sonnets I have extended to the number of nine since I saw you, and will some day communicate to you.
— Lamb to Coleridge; 27 May 1796.
However, Mary Lamb's illness was particularly strong, and it led her to become aggressive on a fatal occasion. On 22 September 1796, while preparing dinner, Mary became angry with her apprentice, roughly shoving the little girl out of her way and pushing her into another room. Her mother, Elizabeth, began yelling at her for this, and Mary suffered a mental breakdown as her mother continued yelling at her. A terrible event occurred: she took the kitchen knife she had been holding, unsheathed it, and approached her mother, who was sitting down. Mary, "worn down to a state of extreme nervous misery by attention to needlework by day and to her mother at night", was seized with acute mania and stabbed her mother in the heart with a table knife. Charles ran into the house soon after the murder and took the knife out of Mary's hand.
Later in the evening, Charles 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. While reports were published by the media, Charles wrote a letter to Samuel Taylor Coleridge in connection to the matricide:
MY dearest friend — White or some of my friends or the public papers by this time may have informed you of the terrible calamities that have fallen on our family. I will only give you the outlines. My poor dear dearest sister in a fit of insanity has been the death of her own mother. I was at hand only time enough to snatch the knife out of her grasp. She is at present in a mad house, from whence I fear she must be moved to an hospital. God has preserved to me my senses, — I eat and drink and sleep, and have my judgment I believe very sound. My poor father was slightly wounded, and I am left to take care of him and my aunt. Mr Norris of the Bluecoat school has been very very kind to us, and we have no other friend, but thank God I am very calm and composed, and able to do the best that remains to do. Write, —as religious a letter as possible— but no mention of what is gone and done with. —With me "the former things are passed away," and I have something more to do that [than] to feel. God almighty have us all in his keeping.
— Lamb to Coleridge. 27 September 1796
Charles took over responsibility for Mary after refusing his brother John's suggestion that they have her committed to a public lunatic asylum. Lamb used a large part of his relatively meagre income to keep his beloved sister in the private "madhouse" in Islington. With the help of friends, Lamb succeeded in obtaining his sister's release from what would otherwise have been lifelong imprisonment. Although there was no legal status of "insanity" at the time, the jury returned the verdict of "lunacy" which was how she was freed from guilt of willful murder, on the condition that Charles take personal responsibility for her safekeeping.
The 1799 death of John Lamb was something of a relief to Charles because his father had been mentally incapacitated for a number of years since suffering a stroke. The death of his father also meant that Mary could come to live again with him in Pentonville, and in 1800 they set up a shared home at Mitre Court Buildings in the Temple, where they would live until 1809.
In 1800, Mary's illness came back and Charles had to take her back again to the asylum, probably Bethlehem Hospital. In those days, Charles sent a letter to Coleridge, in which he admitted he felt melancholic and lonely, "almost wishing that Mary were dead."
Later she would come back, and both he and his sister would enjoy an active and rich social life. Their London quarters became a kind of weekly salon for many of the most outstanding theatrical and literary figures of the day. In 1869, a club, The Lambs, was formed in London to carry on their salon tradition. The actor Henry James Montague founded the club's New York counterpart in 1874. 
Charles Lamb, having been to school with Samuel Coleridge, counted Coleridge as perhaps his closest, and certainly his oldest, friend. On his deathbed, Coleridge had a mourning ring sent to Lamb and his sister. Fortuitously, Lamb's first publication was in 1796, when four sonnets by "Mr Charles Lamb of the India House" appeared in Coleridge's Poems on Various Subjects. In 1797 he contributed additional blank verse to the second edition, and met the Wordsworths, William and Dorothy, on his short summer holiday with Coleridge at Nether Stowey, thereby also striking up a lifelong friendship with William. In London, Lamb became familiar with a group of young writers who favoured political reform, including Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Hazlitt, and Leigh Hunt.
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. His farce, Mr H, was performed at Drury Lane in 1807, where it was roundly booed. In the same year, Tales from Shakespeare (Charles handled the tragedies; his sister Mary, the comedies) was published, and became a best seller for William Godwin's "Children's Library".
On 20 July 1819, at age 44, Lamb, who, because of family commitments, had never married, fell in love with an actress, Fanny Kelly, of Covent Garden, and besides writing her a sonnet he also proposed marriage. She refused him, and he died a bachelor.
His collected essays, under the title Essays of Elia, were published in 1823 ("Elia" being the pen name Lamb used as a contributor to The London Magazine).
The Essays of Elia would be criticised in the Quarterly Review (January, 1823) by Robert Southey, who thought its author to be irreligious. 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". First, Lamb did not want to retort, since he actually admired Southey; but later he felt the need to write a letter "Elia to Southey", in which he complained and expressed that the fact that he was a dissenter of the Church, did not make him an irreligious man. The letter would be published in The London Magazine, on October, 1823:
Rightly taken, Sir, that Paper was not against Graces, but Want of Grace; not against the ceremony, but the carelessness and slovenliness so often observed in the performance of it. . . You have never ridiculed, I believe, what you thought to be religion, but you are always girding at what some pious, but perhaps mistaken folks, think to be so.
— Charles Lamb, "Letter of Elia to Robert Southey, Esquire"
A further collection called The Last Essays of Elia was published in 1833, shortly before Lamb's death. Also, in 1834, Samuel Coleridge died. The funeral was confined only to the family of the writer, so Lamb was prevented from attending and only wrote a letter to Rev. James Gilman, a very close [word missing], expressing his condolences.
He died of a streptococcal infection, erysipelas, contracted from a minor graze on his face sustained after slipping in the street, on 27 December 1834. He was 59. From 1833 till their deaths, Charles and Mary lived at Bay Cottage, Church Street, Edmonton, north of London (now part of the London Borough of Enfield). Lamb is buried in All Saints' Churchyard, Edmonton. His sister, who was ten years his senior, survived him for more than a dozen years. She is buried beside him.
Lamb's first publication was the inclusion of four sonnets in Coleridge's Poems on Various Subjects, published in 1796 by Joseph Cottle. The sonnets were significantly influenced by the poems of Burns and the sonnets of William Bowles, a largely forgotten poet of the late 18th century. Lamb's poems garnered little attention and are seldom read today. As he himself came to realise, he was a much more talented prose stylist than poet. Indeed, one of the most celebrated poets of the day—William Wordsworth—wrote to John Scott as early as 1815 that Lamb "writes prose exquisitely"—and this was five years before Lamb began TheEssays of Elia for which he is now most famous.
Notwithstanding, Lamb's contributions to Coleridge's second edition of the Poems on Various Subjects showed significant growth as a poet. These poems included The Tomb of Douglas and A Vision of Repentance. Because of a temporary fallout with Coleridge, Lamb's poems were to be excluded in the third edition of the Poems though as it turned out a third edition never emerged. Instead, Coleridge's next publication was the monumentally influential Lyrical Ballads co-published with Wordsworth. Lamb, on the other hand, published a book entitled Blank Verse with Charles Lloyd, the mentally unstable son of the founder of Lloyds Bank. Lamb's most famous poem was written at this time and entitled The Old Familiar Faces. Like most of Lamb's poems, it is unabashedly sentimental, and perhaps for this reason it is still remembered and widely read today, being often included in anthologies of British and Romantic period poetry. Of particular interest to Lambarians is the opening verse of the original version of The Old Familiar Faces, which is concerned with Lamb's mother, whom Mary Lamb killed. It was a verse that Lamb chose to remove from the edition of his Collected Work published in 1818:
I had a mother, but she died, and left me,
Died prematurely in a day of horrors -All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
In the final years of the 18th century, Lamb began to work on prose, first in a novella entitled Rosamund Gray, which tells the story of a young girl whose character is thought to be based on Ann Simmons, an early love interest. Although the story is not particularly successful as a narrative because of Lamb's poor sense of plot, it was well thought of by Lamb's contemporaries and led Shelley to observe, "what a lovely thing is Rosamund Gray! How much knowledge of the sweetest part of our nature in it!" (Quoted in Barnett, page 50)
In the first years of the 19th century, Lamb began a fruitful literary cooperation with his sister Mary. Together they wrote at least three books for William Godwin’s Juvenile Library. The most successful of these was Tales From Shakespeare, which ran through two editions for Godwin and has been published dozens of times in countless editions ever since. The book contains artful prose summaries of some of Shakespeare's most well-loved works. According to Lamb, he worked primarily on Shakespeare's tragedies, while Mary focused mainly on the comedies.
Lamb's essay "On the Tragedies of Shakespeare Considered with Reference to their Fitness for Stage Representation", which was originally published in the Reflector in 1811 with the title "On Garrick, and Acting; and the Plays of Shakspeare, considered with reference to their fitness for Stage Representation", has often been taken as the ultimate Romantic dismissal of the theatre. In the essay, Lamb argues that Shakespeare should be read, rather than performed, in order to protect Shakespeare from butchering by mass commercial performances. While the essay certainly criticises contemporary stage practice, it also develops a more complex reflection on the possibility of representing Shakespearean dramas:
Shakespeare’s dramas are for Lamb the object of a complex cognitive process that does not require sensible data, but only imaginative elements that are suggestively elicited by words. In the altered state of consciousness that the dreamlike experience of reading stands for, Lamb can see Shakespeare’s own conceptions mentally materialized.
Besides contributing to Shakespeare's reception with his and his sister's book Tales From Shakespeare, Lamb also contributed to the recovery of acquaintance with Shakespeare's contemporaries. Accelerating the increasing interest of the time in the older writers, and building for himself a reputation as an antiquarian, in 1808 Lamb compiled a collection of extracts from the old dramatists, Specimens of the English Dramatic Poets Who Lived About the Time of Shakespeare. This also contained critical "characters" of the old writers, which added to the flow of significant literary criticism, primarily of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, from Lamb's pen. Immersion in seventeenth-century authors, such as Robert Burton and Sir Thomas Browne, also changed the way Lamb wrote, adding a distinct flavour to his writing style. Lamb's friend, the essayist William Hazlitt, thus characterised him: "Mr. Lamb ... does not march boldly along with the crowd .... He prefers bye-ways to highways. When the full tide of human life pours along to some festive show, to some pageant of a day, Elia would stand on one side to look over an old book-stall, or stroll down some deserted pathway in search of a pensive description over a tottering doorway, or some quaint device in architecture, illustrative of embryo art and ancient manners. Mr. Lamb has the very soul of an antiquarian ...."
Although he did not write his first Elia essay until 1820, Lamb’s gradual perfection of the essay form for which he eventually became famous began as early as 1811 in a series of open letters to Leigh Hunt’s Reflector. The most famous of these early essays is The Londoner, in which Lamb famously derides the contemporary fascination with nature and the countryside. He would continue to fine-tune his craft, experimenting with different essayistic voices and personae, for the better part of the next quarter century.
It has been pointed out that spirituality played an important role in Lamb's personal life, and that, although he was not a churchman, and disliked organised religion, he yet "sought consolation in religion," as shown by letters to Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Bernard Barton, in which he described the New Testament as his "best guide" for life, and where he talked about how he used to read the Psalms for one or two hours without getting tired. Other papers have also dealt with his Christian beliefs. As his friend Samuel Coleridge, Lamb was sympathetic to PriestleyanUnitarianism and was a dissenter, yet, he was described by Coleridge himself as one whose "faith in Jesus ha[d] been preserved" even after the family tragedy. Wordsworth also described him as a firm Christian in the poem Written After the Death of Charles Lamb. Alfred Ainger, in his work Charles Lamb, writes that Lamb's religion had become "an habit".
The poems "On The Lord's Prayer", "A Vision Of Repentance", "The Young Catechist", "Composed at Midnight", "Suffer Little Children, And Forbid Them Not, To Come Unto Me", "Written a twelvemonth after the Events", "Charity", "Sonnet To A Friend" and "David" reflect much about Lamb's faith, whereas the poem "Living Without God In The World" has been called a "poetic attack" to unbelief, in which Lamb expresses his disgust for atheism attributing its nature to pride.
Anne Fadiman notes regretfully that Lamb is not widely read in modern times: "I do not understand why so few other readers are clamoring for his company... [he] is kept alive largely through the tenuous resuscitations of university English departments".
Notwithstanding, there has always been a small but enduring following for Lamb's works, as the long-running and still-active Charles Lamb Bulletin demonstrates. Because of his notoriously quirky, even bizarre, style, he has been more of a "cult favorite" than an author with mass popular or scholarly appeal.
Lamb was honoured by The Latymer School, a grammar school in Edmonton, a suburb of London where he lived for a time; it has six houses, one of which, "Lamb", is named after Charles.
William Wordsworth composed an epitaph-poem "Written After The Death Of Charles Lamb" (1835; 1836), in which he exalts the moral character of his friend. Sir Edward Elgar titled an orchestral work "Dream Children" having in mind Lamb's essay of that name.
- "But, then, in every species of reading, so much depends upon the eyes of the reader..." – From Lamb's essay "On the Danger of Confounding Moral with Personal Deformity"
- "He chose his companions for some individuality of character which they manifested. Hence not many persons of science, and few professed literati, were of his councils. They were, for the most part, persons of an uncertain fortune; ... his intimados, to confess a truth, were, in the world's eyes, a ragged regiment. He found them floating on the surface of society; and the colour, or something else, in the weed, pleased him...He never greatly cared for the society of what are called good people." – From Lamb's essay "A Character of the Late Elia"
- "Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." – From Lamb's essay The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple; features in the preface of To Kill a Mockingbird
- "Man is a gaming animal. He must always be trying to get the better in something or other." – features in the Essays of Elia (1823)
- Blank Verse, poetry, 1798
- A Tale of Rosamund Gray, and old blind Margaret, 1798
- John Woodvil, poetic drama, 1802
- Tales from Shakespeare, 1807
- The Adventures of Ulysses, 1808
- Specimens of English Dramatic poets who lived about the time of Shakespeare, 1808
- On the Tragedies of Shakespeare, 1811
- Witches and Other Night Fears, 1821
- The Pawnbroker's Daughter, 1825
- Eliana, 1867
- Essays of Elia, 1823
- The Last Essays of Elia, 1833
- ^Lucas, Edward Verrall; Lamb, John (1905). The life of Charles Lamb. 1. London: G.P. Putnam's Sons. p. xvii. OCLC 361094.
- ^Last Essays of Elia page 7
- ^Lucas, Life of Lamb page 41
- ^The Essays of Elia page 23
- ^Works of Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb. Letter 1, 1976.
- ^As quoted in Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. Letters (1905).
- ^Letter to S. T. Coleridge. Monday, 12 May 1800.
- ^History of The Lambs
- ^Charles Kent, ‘Kelly, Frances Maria (1790–1882)’, rev. J. Gilliland, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 18 Nov 2014
- ^"Commentary: Charles Lamb on Robert Southey".
- ^Literary EnfieldArchived 13 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 4 June 2008
- ^James, Felicity. Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Wordsworth: Reading Friendship in the 1790s. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, p.50.
- ^Liberto, Fabio. "Visions, Dreams and Reality: Charles Lamb and the Inward ‘Topography’ of Shakespeare’s Plays". In The Languages of Performance in British Romanticism. Peter Lang, 2008, p.156.
- ^Cecil, David. A Portrait of Charles Lamb. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1983, pp. 130–1.
- ^Barnett, George L. Charles Lamb: The Evolution of Elia. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 200–14.
- ^Hazlitt, William. "Elia, and Geoffrey Crayon", The Spirit of the Age, in The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, vol. 11, P. P. Howe, ed. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1932, pp. 178–79.
- ^Biography: Charles Lamb 1775–1834, The Poetry Foundation:
- ^The Open Court Publishing Company, 1923, "The Religious Opinions of Charles Lamb;" by Dudley Wright. No. 810, the Religion of Science, and the Extension of the Religious Parliament Idea.
- ^Works of Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb (2010), MobileReference. ISBN 1607787598, 9781607787594: ""His great, and indeed infinite reverence, nevertheless, for Christ is shown in his own Christian virtues and in constant expressions of reverence."
- ^E.V. Lucas. The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Volume 2
- ^CHARLES LAMB (1775–1834). The Charles Lamb Society.
- ^In it, Wordsworth wrote of Lamb: "From the most gentle creature nursed in fields / Had been derived the name he bore— a name, / Wherever Christian altars have been raised,/ Hallowed to meekness and to innocence
- ^Jeremy Black (2007), "Culture in Eighteenth-Century England: A Subject for Taste, Continuum, p.97
- ^Charles Lamb Society (1997), "The Charles Lamb Bulletin", Números 97-104
- ^Fadiman, Anne. "The Unfuzzy Lamb". At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays. pp. 26–27.
- ^"Latymer School - Lamb House". Latymer School. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- ^William Wordsworth (1904), "The complete poetical works of William Wordsworth", Houghton, Mifflin & Co., p. 734
- Life of Charles Lamb by E.V. Lucas, G.P. Putman & Sons, London, 1905.
- Charles Lamb and the Lloyds by E.V. Lucas Smith, Elder & Company, London, 1898.
- Charles Lamb and His Contemporaries, by Edmund Blunden, Cambridge University Press, 1933.
- Companion to Charles Lamb, by Claude Prance, Mansell Publishing, London, 1938.
- Charles Lamb; A Memoir, by Barry Cornwall aka Bryan Procter, Edward Moxon, London, 1866.
- Young Charles Lamb, by Winifred Courtney, New York University Press, 1982.
- Portrait of Charles Lamb, by David Cecil, Constable, London, 1983.
- Charles Lamb, by George Barnett, Twayne Publishers, Boston, 1976.
- A Double Life: A Biography of Charles and Mary Lamb by Sarah Burton, Viking, 1993.
- The Lambs: Their Lives, Their Friends, and Their Correspondence by William Carew Hazlitt, C. Scribner's Sons, 1897.