The Portable Charles Lamb Edited by John Mason Brown is a 594-page paperback published by Penguin Books, first published in 1948. The bottom corner of the cover is clipped. Inside, the pages are tanning. Otherwise, the book is clean and the pages are unmarked. This is a reader's copy.
Among the tantalizing "ifs" of literature is what Charles Lamb might have been like as a man and writer if, in a fit of madness, his sister Mary had not slain their mother when he was only twenty-one. The "gentle Elia" the world loves was the product of ungentle and terrible events. He was the stepchild of a calamity as bloody as any to be found in the most bloodstained Elizabethan dramas of which Lamb was later to become a champion. To a tragic extent Lamb's life, hence Elia's character, was carved out for him by the case knife which poor deluded Mary drove straight and deep into their mother's heart.
Surely never in the strange annals of authorship has the world gained so much in pleasure or an innocent man lost more in freedom than in the instance of the catastrophe which resulted in Lamb's becoming the most beloved bachelor or letters literature has produced.ISBN: 0-14-015.043-9