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Mad Mary Lamb : lunacy and murder in literary London

by Hitchcock, Susan Tyler.

Format: Print Book 2005
Availability: Available at 2 Libraries 2 of 2 copies
Available (2)
Location Collection Call #
Moon Township Public Library Non-Fiction 824.7 HITCHCOCK
Location  Moon Township Public Library
 
Collection  Non-Fiction
 
Call Number  824.7 HITCHCOCK
 
 
Northland Public Library Nonfiction 824.7 H63
Location  Northland Public Library
 
Collection  Nonfiction
 
Call Number  824.7 H63
 
 
Summary
After killing her mother with a carving knife, Mary Lamb spent the rest of her life in and out of madhouses; yet the crime and its aftermath opened up a new life. Freed to read extensively, she discovered her talent for writing and, with her brother, the essayist Charles Lamb, collaborated on the famous Tales from Shakespeare. This narrative of a nearly forgotten woman is a tapestry of insights into creativity and madness, the changing lives of women, and the redemptive power of the written word.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Mary Lamb and her younger brother, Charles, are best known today as the authors of Tales from Shakespeare, a retelling of the plays of Shakespeare for children. But the Lambs were immersed in both scandal and the elite literary circles of their times. In 1796, 32-year-old Mary Lamb stabbed her own mother to death in an apparent act of lunacy, according to the courts of the day. Rather than being sentenced to death, Mary was sent to a madhouse. Although she was released six months later and eventually rejoined her brother, Mary was to have periodic relapses for the rest of her life, and her first trip to the madhouse was hardly the last. But the Lambs were also members of a brilliant literary circle, which included Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and William Godwin. Touching on the lunacy laws of the day, the plight of women, and the burgeoning children's publishing industry, Hitchcock vividly evokes the changing times the Lambs lived in. A vibrant literary biography. --Kristine Huntley Copyright 2004 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "One afternoon in 1796, Mary Lamb, aged 31, killed her mother with a carving knife at the dinner table. Like Kathy Watson in her recent The Devil Kissed Her: The Story of Mary Lamb, Hitchcock diagnoses manic-depression at the heart of Mary's matricidal act and her subsequent stays in Britain's early mental asylums. Hitchcock (Coming About: A Family Passage at Sea), however, is far more willing to speculate about the gaps in the record of Mary's life, not to mention her thoughts and feelings as she regained something like a normal existence after the murder, which was judged an act of madness. Despite eventual bestselling collaborations with her brother, essayist Charles Lamb, in Tales from Shakespeare and Poetry for Children, Mary left an erratic documentary trail, with only one significant personal essay, which Hitchcock sees as proto-feminist. Charles, her lifelong protector, remains the best source about his sister and their shared life. But his letters to such friends as Samuel Coleridge and Robert Southey show some reserve about the delicate subject of his sister's mental health. With such gaps, Hitchcock often resorts to reading into existing texts or inferring details of Mary's asylum experiences from typical practices of the time, which only partially resuscitates this tragic but elusive life. 32 illus. not seen by PW. Agents, Miriam Goderich and Jane Dystel. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Lamb, Mary, -- 1764-1847.
Lamb, Charles, -- 1775-1834 -- Family.
Literature and mental illness -- England -- History -- 19th century.
Psychiatric hospital patients -- Great Britain -- Biography.
Women and literature -- England -- History -- 19th century.
Authorship -- Collaboration -- History -- 19th century.
Mentally ill women -- Great Britain -- Biography.
Authors, English -- 19th century -- Biography.
Murderers -- Great Britain -- Biography.
London (England) -- Intellectual life -- 19th century.
Publisher New York :W.W. Norton,2005
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description 333 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 303-312) and index.
ISBN 0393057410 (hc.)
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