Dream-Child: A life of Charles Lamb
Yale University Press, US$35 hb, 516 pp
The life of Charles Lamb reads like a tale by Charles Dickens. In 1775, a sweet-natured boy is born in the Inns of Court, the ancient legal district in the City of London. The boy’s father, John Lamb, works as clerk, scribe, and all-round dogsbody for an imbecilic barrister called Samuel Salt – the names themselves are Dickensian – who does nothing without first consulting his servant. Charles, the youngest child by eleven years, grows up amid the great halls, libraries, chapels, staircases, sundials, fountains, and hidden orchards of the Inner Temple; his early youth is an Eden, but there is a serpent in the garden, because madness runs in the Lamb family.