Episode 24: The Lives and Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb

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Dr Felicity James, author of Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Wordsworth: Reading Friendship in the 1790s and current custodian of Charles’s writing chair, introduces the Slightly Foxed editors to siblings at the heart of a literary circle. In their Tales from Shakespeare, gentle-hearted drunken-dog Charles wrote the tragedies and Mary, often chided for laughing, the comedies, and together they penned letters using different coloured inks. From a murder in the home and time in private asylums to conversations with Coleridge at the pub, dissertations on roast pig and salons in their London lodgings, we explore the lives of the Lambs and their friendships through books.

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Show Notes

Please find links to books, articles, and further reading listed below. The digits in brackets following each listing refer to the minute and second they are mentioned. (Episode duration: 43 minutes; 43 seconds)

Books Mentioned

We may be able to get hold of second-hand copies of the out-of-print titles listed below. Please get in touch with Jess in the Slightly Foxed office for more information.

An Englishman’s Commonplace Book, Roger Hudson (2:03)

Charles Lamb, Coleridge and Wordsworth: Reading Friendship in the 1790s, Felicity James is out of print (2:44)

– There have been two editions of the Lambs’ letters: The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, ed. Edwin W. Marrs, Jr., 3 vols. [which go up to 1817], Cornell University Press, 1975, and The Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb, ed. E. V. Lucas, 3 vols., Dent, 1935. Sadly neither is still in print.

Tales from Shakespeare, Charles and Mary Lamb (14:33)

Mrs Leicester’s School and Poetry for Children, Charles and Mary Lamb are out of print (14:44)

Essays of Elia, Charles Lamb is out of print (16:46)

A Double Life: A Biography of Charles and Mary Lamb, Sarah Burton is out of print

The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel (39:12)

Ghost Wall, Sarah Moss (41:00)

Related Slightly Foxed Articles

Streets, Streets, Streets, Felicity James on the letters of Charles and Mary Lamb, Issue 65

A Delight in Digression, David Spiller on Essays of Elia, Issue 64 (16:46)

Other Links

The Charles Lamb Society (36:28)

Opening music: Preludio from Violin Partita No.3 in E Major by Bach

The Slightly Foxed Podcast is hosted by Philippa Lamb and produced by Podcastable

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Comments & Reviews

  1. Jasmine Simeone says:

    As usual this is a most informative and fascinating podcast. I was brought up to understand that Charles and Mary Lamb were important figures – but without any real evidence. They seemed to be people that my father had a lasting reverence for . . . They never really impinged on my own reading. So I find this extremely interesting and evocative. I did not know the story of why they lived together, and I was not aware that they they were more than just authors of children’s books which were out of date by the time I was a child. I love the periphery of these podcasts by the way – I look forward eagerly to sounds of the dogs, but they usually disappoint as you manage to keep them out of the sounds! Keep doing them!

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