Hazlitt’s portrait of Charles Lamb (1804) in The National Portrait Gallery
Charles Lamb, one of the great English essayists, was a child of London, the city that would inspire his best work. Born on Crown Office Row in 1775, he grew up in and around the Inner Temple and was educated at Christ’s Hospital in Newgate Street. He spent thirty-three years working as a clerk in the East India House on Leadenhall Street, writing poems, plays, and essays in his precious spare time. Renowned for his warm sense of humour and legendary social gatherings, he lived at the very heart of the literary scene of his day. His life, however, was often troubled by drink, depression, and tragedy. In 1796 his sister, Mary, stabbed their mother to death in a bout of insanity. Charles spent the rest of his life caring for his sister, foregoing marriage to ensure that she would not have to be confined indefinitely to an asylum. But their relationship was remarkably fruitful; they worked together on numerous literary projects and, in 1807, they published Tales from Shakespeare, a work that has never been out of print since. Charles died in 1834 and Mary in 1847. They lie in a shared grave in All Saint’s churchyard in Edmonton.
The Charles Lamb Society was founded in 1935 following the centenary of Lamb’s death. It aims to promote a wider and deeper understanding of the life and times of Charles and Mary Lamb. Each year we hold a series of events in London that try to preserve the spirit of Elian friendliness and good humour. New members are very welcome to join us. Please explore the site to find out more.