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Short poem

Selected Poetry of Charles Lamb (1775-1834)

from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2004, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

All-endearing Cleanliness,
Virtue next to Godliness,
Easiest, cheapest, needful'st duty,
To the body health and beauty;
Who that's human would refuse it,
When a little water does it?
        (Cleanliness, 33-38)
  1. Cleanliness
  2. A Farewell to Tobacco
  3. The King and Queen of Hearts
  4. The Old Familiar Faces
  5. On an Infant Dying as Soon as Born
  6. Parental Recollections
  7. Thoughtless Cruelty
  8. To Margaret W------

Notes on Life and Works

Born February 10, 1775, in London and educated at Christ's Hospital, Charles Lamb was a minor poet (and friend of S. T. Coleridge), but also the earliest editor of Elizabethan drama, and the greatest essay-writer of his age. He first took a job at South Sea House and from 1792 to his retirement in 1825 at East India House. Without much of an inheritance, Charles lived with his sister Mary Lamb throughout his life. They were true collaborators and co-dependents, each subject to periods of mental illness, each nursing the other during these times. Mary Lamb, while insane, in 1796 had knifed to death their their mother. It was owing to Charles' love that she was de-institutionalized and allowed to go home. They earned their living by writing, co-authoring Tales from Shakespear (1807), The Adventures of Ulysses (1808), Mrs Leicester's School (1809), and Poetry for Children. Later he turned to journalism and published Essays of Elia, a first series (1823) and a second series (1833), the works for which he is justly remembered. He died December 27, 1834, from erysipelas. Mary survived until 1847.

Biographical information

Given name: Charles
Family name: Lamb
Birth date: 10 February 1775
Death date: 27 December 1834
Nationality: English
Family relations
          father: John Lamb
          mother: Elizabeth Lamb
          brother: John Lamb
          sister: Mary Ann Lamb
          Fetter Lane Day-school under Mr. William Bird
          Christ's Hospital: 1782 to November 1789
Literary period: Romantic
Occupation: Clerk: 1792
          Crown Office Row in the Temple, London: 10 February 1775
          45 Chapel Street, Pentonville: 1796 to 1799
          Little Queen Street, Holborn: 1796
          King's Bench Walk in the Temple, London: 1799 to 1808
          Inner Temple Lane: 1808 to 1817
          Great Russell Street, Covent Garden: 1817 to August 1823
          Colebrooke Row, Islington: August 1823 to 1829
          Enfield Chace: 1829 to 1833
          Bay Cottage, Edmonton: 1833 to 27 December 1834
Cause of death: Erysipelas
Buried at: Edmonton churchyard
First RPO edition: 2000