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Author: Lamb, Mary Anne


Lamb, Mary Anne (1764-1847: ODNB)

She was born in the Inner Temple, London, the second of three surviving children of John and Elizabeth Lamb. Her father was employed as a waiter by one of the benchers, Samuel Salt, and although she had little formal schooling, Mary Lamb had the benefit of access to Salt's library while she was growing up. She was apprenticed to a dressmaker and was soon contributing to the support of the family by taking in needlework. After Salt's death in 1792 they moved to poor lodgings where, in a fit of insanity in 1796, Mary Lamb stabbed her mother to death. Her brother Charles (q.v.) stood surety to prevent her incarceration as a lunatic and they lived together for the rest of his life, with Mary confined occasionally in private madhouses for recurrent psychiatric episodes. In 1823 they adopted an orphan, Emma Isola, who married Charles's publisher Edward Moxon in 1833. Their successful collaborations for the Godwins' list of children's books--Tales from Shakespear (1807), Mrs.Leicester's School (1809), and Poetry for Children, Entirely Original (1809)--appeared anonymously or under Charles's name, but Mary contributed more than half of the text in each case. She outlived her brother by 13 years and is buried with him in Edmonton churchyard. (ODNB 25 Aug. 2019)


Other Names:

  • Mary Lamb

Books written (4):

[London]: [Godwin:] printed by McMillan, [1811]
Boston: West and Richardson, and Edward Cotton, 1812