On 22 September 1796 Mary Lamb murdered her mother with a carving knife. However, she was neither imprisoned nor punished, but instead released into the care of her younger brother Charles. They went on to share their home, friends and work for nearly forty years. They wrote the children's classic Tales from Shakespeare together, ran a literary agency, and had a salon frequented by Coleridge, Wordsworth, Hazlitt and Godwin. However, the Lambs' popularity existed in the shadow of Mary's recurring bouts of mania and depression and she was incarcerated in a mental institution for several months of each year. This memorable portrait of one of literature's most romantic figures examines this extraordinary brother-sister relationship and, amidst the many contradictions and chaotic episodes of her life, uncovers the real Mary Lamb.
The daughter of a Scottish mother and a Jamaican father, Kathy Watson was brought up in Devon. After graduating from Oxford University, she worked for the BBC and then as a journalist and editor in national women's magazines. Her first book, The Crossing, also a biography, was published in 2000. She is currently a freelance journalist and lives in North London with her husband and two small children.