The Devil Kissed Her

The Devil Kissed Her

The Story of Mary Lamb

Book - 2004
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Penguin Putnam
Kathy Watson explores Mary Lamb's famous crime and her remarkable relationship with her brother Charles.

Author Mary Lamb, long considered by historians a mere adjunct to her brother Charles, was a woman of contradictions: fiercely domestic yet unmarried; maternal yet childless; a peaceful, loving woman susceptible to bouts of extreme violence.

In this fascinating book, Kathy Watson traces the extraordinary intertwined lives of Mary Lamb and her brother Charles, authors of the perennial children's book Tales of Shakespeare. Their uncommonly close relationship-an ersatz marriage-was bound ever closer after Mary murdered their mother with a carving knife during a psychotic episode. Sharing the same constellation of friends-Coleridge and Wordsworth among them-yet plagued by Mary's manic depression, the Lambs' lives have long been shrouded in ambiguity.

In The Devil Kissed Her, Watson documents the nature of Mary's mental illness and the terrible crime she committed in its haze, the lifelong devotion of Charles, and the brother and sister's dual existence in both the calm domesticity of their home life and the bedlam of nineteenth-century mental asylums.

Baker & Taylor
A thoughtful portrait of Mary Lamb who, along with her brother Charles, was responsible for the classic children's book Tales from Shakespeare, details the fierce contradictions of her life, a uniquely close relationship with her brother, her mental illness, and the terrible murder of their mother during a psychotic episode. 10,000 first printing.

Book News
In September 1796, when she was 31 years old, Lamb stabbed and killed her paralyzed mother, then lived the rest of her 40-some years with her younger brother Charles Lamb, the writer, and despite her episodes created a happy, productive life. Watson, a columnist for the British magazine She seeks the person behind the sensation. There is no index. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Blackwell North Amer
On September 22, 1796, Mary Lamb stabbed her mother to death with a carving knife. Amazingly, she was not punished but was instead released into the care of her younger brother, Charles. Brother and sister remained inseparable for the next forty years, coauthoring the perennial children's book Tales from Shakespeare and hosting a salon frequented by the likes of Coleridge, Wordsworth, Hazlitt, and Godwin.
Yet the Lambs' popularity existed in the shadow of Mary's recurring bouts of illness. Centuries before manic depression was diagnosed, Mary's collapses took her to a mental hospital for several months of the year. Together Mary and her devoted brother were forced to navigate the bedlam of nineteenth-century asylums.
Long considered by historians a mere adjunct to her brother, Mary Lamb was a woman of deep contradictions: fiercely domestic yet unmarried; maternal yet childless; a peaceful, loving woman who could erupt into extreme violence. In this book, Kathy Watson seeks to connect the person William Hazlitt once declared "the only thoroughly reasonable woman" he'd ever met with the woman who murdered her mother in a psychotic episode. And Watson reveals an extraordinary brother-sister relationship: Mary and Charles Lamb provided for each other a hard-won domestic stability and both personal and literary inspiration.

& Taylor

Presents the life of Mary Lamb, author and sister of the essayist Charles Lamb, who suffered from periodic episodes of insanity and who murdered her mother during one of those episodes.

Publisher: New York : Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2004
Edition: 1st Jeremy P. Tarcher ed
ISBN: 9781585423569
Branch Call Number: BIO Lamb WAT
Characteristics: 245 p. :,ill., ports. ;,22 cm.


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