In 1796 when Mary Lamb, in a sudden attack of violent frenzy, killed her mother, her brother Charles pledged himself to be responsible for her care, thus sparing her from threatened incarceration in Bedlam. For the next thirty odd years they lived, and wrote, together. Informed by feminist and psychoanalytic literary theory, this book provides an entirely new perspective on the lives and writings of Charles and Mary Lamb. It argues that the Lambs's ideological inheritance as the children of servants, their work experience as clerk and needlewoman respectively, and the role that madness and matricide played in both their lives, resulted in writings which were at variance with the spirit of their age. In particular, the intensity of their sibling bond is seen, in Charles Lamb's case, as resulting in texts stylistically and thematically opposed to the masculinist stance currently considered characteristic of Romantic writers.
`Jane Aaron argues her case with ingenuity and learning, marshalling a formidable battery of psychological theory in its support ... stimulates the reader with point after point that demands thought and close attention ... Jane Aaron opens the way for fresh modes of seeing and a fresh set of possibilities. Her book has been extensively researched and carefully pondered. It has been worth waiting for.'
Bill Ruddick, The Charles Lamb Bulletin, New Series No. 77, January 1992
`illuminating study of the Lambs' lives and writings'
Vivien Jones, University of Leeds, BARS Bulletin & Review, Issue No. 2 February 1992
`A lively, provocative book about a decidedly odd couple. Good bibliography.'
`This is a stimulating and enjoyable book. The author is always considerate of her reader, helpfully signposting the way and conducting her argument in a lucid style that is mercifully free of jargon.'
Valerie Pedlar, Journal of Gender Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, November 1991
'interesting book ... This placing of the Lambs in a precise social context is convincing in detail and full of informative references. Aaron works hard and successfully to refresh our understanding of the Lambs' lives and writings by examining them within a varied framework of feminist thought.'
Martin Gray, University of Stirling, MLR, 88.4, 1993