The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb: 1809–1817

Cornell University Press, 24/01/2019 - 336 páginas

All of the available letters of Charles Lamb, a master of the English essay, and his sister Mary Anne published in this definitive, scrupulously edited work. The letters, many of them written to illustrious figures of the Romantic period, are generally agreed to rank among the finest in the English language.

Transcribing where possible from the originals or facsimiles, Professor Marrs corrects textual errors found in previous editions, and he pays particular attention to establishing precise dates for the correspondence. He includes letters that were omitted from the last collection (published in 1935 and long out of print), and he has uncovered more than eighty letters never published before.

The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb totals five or six volumes, and presents nearly 1200 letters written by Charles and Mary, singly or together. The correspondence is fully annotated, the volumes are illustrated, and the holographic idiosyncrasies of the originals are rendered typographically wherever possible.

Rich in revelations about the extraordinary lives of the Lambs, these beautifully written letters are an inexhaustible store of information about the Romantic era and its major figures-Wordsworth, Keats, and Coleridge. The publication of unexpurgated and authoritative texts is an important literary event.

The first volume was published in 1975, the bicentenary of Charles Lamb's birth. It contains 102 letters written by Charles, many of them after Mary murdered their mother. Among the recipients were the poets Coleridge, Southey, and Wordsworth.

The letters provide shrewd observations on his friends' writings and his own, vivid descriptions of life in London, and compassionate but candid remarks concerning his family and acquaintances. Notes to each letter place it in context, quoting where necessary from the correspondence Lamb is answering.

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Edwin W. Marrs, Jr., is Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh. He is the editor of The Letters of Thomas Carlyle to His Brother Alexander, with Related Family Letters.

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