Mary Lamb

1764–1847
Mary  Lamb

British Poet and anthologist Mary Lamb worked as a seamstress for 10 years to support her ailing family. She suffered from bipolar disorder and, during an episode in 1796, killed her mother with a kitchen knife. Her younger brother Charles, a poet and essayist who worked for the East India Company, agreed to serve as Mary’s caretaker rather than consign her to lifelong institutionalization. Despite her illness, the siblings developed a collaborative writing relationship and produced many well-known collections of poetry and prose for children. The books they wrote together were published anonymously or under Charles’s name in order to shield Mary from unwanted publicity.

Poems