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Mad Mary Lamb: Lunacy and Murder in Literary…
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Mad Mary Lamb: Lunacy and Murder in Literary London (original 2005; edição 2005)

por Susan Tyler Hitchcock

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
18111115,904 (3.4)14
"Mary Lamb - a dutiful daughter, well liked by just about everyone - killed her own mother with a carving knife. She spent the rest of her life in and out of madhouses, yet the crime and its aftermath opened up a life that no woman of her time or class could have expected. Freed to read extensively, Mary Lamb discovered her talent for writing. She and her brother, the essayist Charles Lamb, embarked on a literary collaboration that resulted in the famous Tales from Shakespear. Confidante to many of Britain's Romantics including Coleridge, Godwin, and Wordsworth, Mary Lamb stood at the vibrant center of a colorful literary circle. Through a deep reading of history, letters, and literature, Susan Tyler Hitchcock brings to life an intriguing portrait of Mary Lamb and her world. This narrative of a nearly forgotten woman becomes a tapestry of insights into creativity and madness, the changing lives of women, and the redemptive power of the written word."--BOOK JACKET.… (mais)
Membro:paeonia
Título:Mad Mary Lamb: Lunacy and Murder in Literary London
Autores:Susan Tyler Hitchcock
Informação:W. W. Norton & Company (2005), Hardcover, 333 pages
Colecções:Donated, Lidos mas não possuídos
Avaliação:
Etiquetas:biography

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Mad Mary Lamb por Susan Tyler Hitchcock (2005)

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It would have been remarkable enough that Charles and Mary Lamb, the son and daughter of servants, both rose to become significant literary figures in 18th century England, intimate friends with the likes of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. What makes their story even more remarkable is that Mary was officially insane, having stabbed and killed their mother with a kitchen knife. Susan Tyler Hitchcock tells their story in “Mad Mary Lamb” (2005).

Mental instability seemed to run in the Lamb family, and Charles himself suffered from bouts of depression. He was devoted to his sister, who was about a decade older, and when she was released from the madhouse, she moved in with him. Neither ever married, and they lived together until Charles died in 1834. They even, in effect, adopted a daughter together..

Yet about once a year Mary could feel and Charles could see that she was again being overcome by madness. He would lead her to one or another madhouse, where she would stay for several weeks. Hitchcock goes into detail about what madhouses were like in that era, long periods in a straitjacket being among the most bearable treatments. Upon her return home she would resume her housework, earning money making clothing for women and, in time, writing.

Charles is regarded as one of England's best essayists, but Mary was a skilled writer in her own right, although most of her work was not credited to her at the time. The children's books the siblings wrote together carried only her brother's name, even though most the writing was hers. This was even before Mary Ann Evans wrote her novels under the name of George Eliot to increase their appeal to publishers and readers, so Mary Lamb wrote in an age when female writers faced significant challenges. Hitchcock seems to blame Charles for grabbing the credit rather than giving him his due for encouraging his sister's literary efforts.

Even so, Coleridge, Wordsworth and others recognized Mary's abilities and welcomed her participation in the literary discussions held almost nightly in the Lamb home.

Hitchcock tries now and then to turn her biography into a feminist tract. At one point she even suggests Mary's killing of her mother might have been a good career move because it led to living with Charles and rubbing shoulders with literary greats. Like Mary Lamb, the author is at her best when she is thinking straight.

One can still go into any good bookstore and find or order a copy of “Tales from Shakespeare,” the most significant book Charles and Mary Lamb wrote together. Today both of their names are on the cover. ( )
  hardlyhardy | May 30, 2019 |
The author makes good use of the Lambs' personal letters to effectively trace the lines of friendship among the Romantics of the day: Coleridge, the Shelleys, Wordsworth, Blake, and the Hazlitts, to name a few. I would have enjoyed more general description of the time period, but the book carefully elucidates the way Mary Lamb struggled to play the acceptable female role while being at the center of a literary movement. ( )
  LaurelPoe | Dec 25, 2017 |
This was a fascinating story of a disturbed young girl, who was a product of an unhealthy environment as well as genetics. I didn't really know anything about Mary Lamb, and this book was a marvelous insight into a dark world. I gave it 3 stars because while the story is moving, the book isn't the most captivating as it's written. I feel it's too vague at times. Nevertheless I did enjoy it greatly and would recommend it to fans of true crime novels. ( )
  walksaloneatnight | Feb 24, 2015 |
This was a fascinating story of a disturbed young girl, who was a product of an unhealthy environment as well as genetics. I didn't really know anything about Mary Lamb, and this book was a marvelous insight into a dark world. I gave it 3 stars because while the story is moving, the book isn't the most captivating as it's written. I feel it's too vague at times. Nevertheless I did enjoy it greatly and would recommend it to fans of true crime novels. ( )
  walksaloneatnight | Feb 24, 2015 |
This was a fascinating story of a disturbed young girl, who was a product of an unhealthy environment as well as genetics. I didn't really know anything about Mary Lamb, and this book was a marvelous insight into a dark world. I gave it 3 stars because while the story is moving, the book isn't the most captivating as it's written. I feel it's too vague at times. Nevertheless I did enjoy it greatly and would recommend it to fans of true crime novels. ( )
  walksaloneatnight | Feb 24, 2015 |
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"Mary Lamb - a dutiful daughter, well liked by just about everyone - killed her own mother with a carving knife. She spent the rest of her life in and out of madhouses, yet the crime and its aftermath opened up a life that no woman of her time or class could have expected. Freed to read extensively, Mary Lamb discovered her talent for writing. She and her brother, the essayist Charles Lamb, embarked on a literary collaboration that resulted in the famous Tales from Shakespear. Confidante to many of Britain's Romantics including Coleridge, Godwin, and Wordsworth, Mary Lamb stood at the vibrant center of a colorful literary circle. Through a deep reading of history, letters, and literature, Susan Tyler Hitchcock brings to life an intriguing portrait of Mary Lamb and her world. This narrative of a nearly forgotten woman becomes a tapestry of insights into creativity and madness, the changing lives of women, and the redemptive power of the written word."--BOOK JACKET.

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