Charles Lamb (1774 – 1834) lived most of his life with his sister Mary (1764-1847). They both suffered from periods of mental illness (= malattia mentale) , but Mary during one of her fits (= momenti acuti) , killed her mother in 1796. Charles asked to become her official guardian and she was released from the asylum. Mary was a lively and creative woman when she was well. She had some poems published in Mrs Leicester’s School (1809), collaborated with Charles and wrote also some works with him including Tales from Shakespeare (1807).
Charles Lamb loved living in
and often described the city, the crowd, the pubs where he met friends. Charles and Mary had frequent visits at home, friends with whom they played cards, ate, drank, smoked, and discussed various topics (= vari argomenti). Their friends included Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Percy Bysshe Shelley (“poeti romantici della prima generazione). They met William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy in the London Lake District and for a time lived quite near. But Charles preferred the activity and chaotic life of the city.
In 1817 the Lambs moved to
Covent Garden. Here Charles started writing for London Magazine (1821-25) under his pseudonym Elia. They were then published under the title Essays of Elia (1823) and later Last Essays of Elia (1833) by the publisher Edward Moxon.
Together with his sister he also adopted an eleven year old orphan named Emma Isola (1808-1891). After another episode of illness, they moved to Walden House in
. But Mary’s illness was an heavy burden (= pesante fardello) for Charles who started drinking. He was only happy when Emma married his friend and publisher Edward Moxon in 1833. Edmonton
At Coleridge’s death 1834 Charles Lamb was destroyed , it was a terrible loss and he even could not write a tribute to him. While walking one day, he fell, injured his face and contracted an infection, which brought him to die in 1834.
He is buried (= sepolto) in the All Saint’s Churchyard in
, together with his sister Mary Edmonton
Among his works are
A Tale of Rosamund Gray and Poor Blind Margaret (1798), a story;
he wrote John Wodvil (1802) and Mr. H (a farce in verse, 1806), for the theatre;
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).