Lamb, Charles

BORN 10 Feb 1775, London: Crown Office Row, Inner Temple - DIED 27 Dec 1834, London: Edmonton, Enfield
GRAVE LOCATION London: All Saints Churchyard, Church Street, Edmonton, Enfield (in a paved enclosure to the south-west of the church)

Charles Lamb was the son off the lawyer's clerk John Lamb and his wife Elizabeth Field. He was eleven years younger than his sister Mary. Another surviving child was his brother John. At the charity boarding school Christ's Hospital he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge and they became lifelong friends. In 1792 he started working at the Accountant's Office for the British East India Company. He remained there for 25 years.

In 1792 he fell in love with Ann Simmons but to his disappointment she eventually married a silversmith. In 1795 he spent several weeks in a mental facility. His sister Mary had mental problems of a more severe kind. In a state of acute mania she stabbed their mother to death with a kitchen knife on 22 September 1796. She was placed in a mental institution and later Charles took responsibility for her to provent her from being sent to a public lunatic asylum. She spent time in a private mental institution in Islington instead and lived with him afterwards. In 1800 her illness returned and she was sent to an asylum once more. After she recovered their house became a meeting point for persons from the literary and theatrical world.

In 1796 Coleridge had included four of Lamb's sonnets in his "Poems on Various Subjects" and in 1797 Lamb met Wordsworth. He also met Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt. He combined his work at the East India Company with his literary efforts. In 1798 his volume of poetry "Blank Verse" was published. Together with Mary he wrote at least three books for William Godwins Juvenile Library, the best known was "Tales From Shakespeare" (1807). He also wrote several plays. One of them was produced unsuccesfully in 1806. In 1811 he wrote the essay "On the Tragedies of Shakespeare" in which he argued that Shakespeare should be read rather than performed.

In 1819 he fell in love with the actress Fanny Kelly. But she politely declined his proposal for marriage and he remained a bachelor all his life. After it was disclosed in 1821 that Percy Bysshe Shelley was the author of "Vindication of Natural Diet" (1813), Lamb satirized it in "A Dissertation on Roast Pig" in September 1822, shortly after Shelley's death. It didn't prevent Mary Shelley from visiting him at 64 Duncan Terrace in Islington - where he lived with his sister Mary from 1823 to 1827 - after her return from Italy.

In 1823 his collected essays were published as "Essays of Elia". In 1833 another collection, "The Last Essays of Elia" was published. He and Mary moved to Bay Cottage in Church Street, Edmonton in 1833. He died there in 1834 from an infection, contracted after he had slipped in the street.

Related persons
• was visited by Ainsworth, William Harrison
• was a friend of Godwin, William
• knew Hays, Mary
• knew Robinson, Henry Crabb
• knew Shelley, Mary

7/2/1816Fanny Kelly is shot at in the Covent Garden Theatre in London. The disturbed George Barnett shot at her when she was on the stage. Part of of the shot landed in the lap of Mary Lamb, who was present together with her brother Charles, who wanted to marry Fanny. 


Charles Lamb's cottage in Edmonton, London.
Picture by Androom (18 Jun 2022)


The grave of Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb at All Saints Churchyard in Edmonton, Enfield, Greater London.
Picture by Androom (18 Jun 2022)


• Vincent, Benjamin, Haydn's Dictionary of Dates, and Universal Information, Ward, Lock & Co, London, 1906
Charles Lamb Edmonton London grave poet
Charles Lamb - Wikipedia

Lampo, Hubert

Published: 27 Jun 2022
Last update: 29 Jun 2022