He was the first intensely personal, truly Romantic essayist, never rivaled in popularity by his friends Leigh Hunt and William Hazlitt.
Many of Lamb's essays before those he signed Elia came out in Hunt's publications." For students of Lamb and for his recent biographers, Lamb's poetry is mainly of interest as autobiography and as light on the essays, often treating the same subjects.
Thereafter she was most often lucid, warm, understanding, and much admired by such friends as the essayist William Hazlitt. But she was almost annually visited by the depressive illness which led to her confinement for weeks at a time in a private hospital in Hoxton.
(Lamb too had been confined briefly at Hoxton for his mental state in 1795, but there was no later recurrence.) Both were known for their capacity for friendship and for their mid-life weekly gatherings of writers, lawyers, actors, and the odd but interesting "characters" for whom Lamb had a weakness.
His early novel, (1798), is also rooted in the Ann episode.
After the death of Samuel Salt in 1792 the Lambs were in straitened circumstances, mother and father both ill.The elder brother, John, was living independently and was not generous to his family.On Charles (after an unpaid apprenticeship) and his elder sister, Mary, a dressmaker who had already shown signs of mental instability, fell the burden of providing for the family, and Mary took on the nursing as well.Two of Lamb's early sonnets are addressed to her: Mary, who was ten years older than Charles, had mothered him as a child, and their relationship was always a close one.Charles continued to write—a ballad on a Scottish theme, poems to friends and to William Cowper on that poet's recovery from a fit of madness.The tragedy of 22 September 1796—when Mary, exhausted and deranged from overwork, killed their mother with a carving knife—changed both their lives forever.She was judged temporarily insane, and Lamb at twenty-two took full legal responsibility for her for life, to avoid her permanent confinement in a madhouse.Though soon after his mother's death he announced his intention to leave poetry "to my betters," Lamb continued to write verse of various kinds throughout his life: sonnets, lyrics, blank verse, light verse, prologues and epilogues to the plays of friends, satirical verse, verse translations, verse for children, and finally (1830), written to please young ladies who kept books of such tributes.By 1820 he had developed what was to be his "Elia" prose style.He early realized that poetry was not his vocation; his best poetry was written in youth.The son of John and Elizabeth Field Lamb, Charles Lamb, a Londoner who loved and celebrated that city, was born in the Temple, the abode of London lawyers, where his father was factotum for one of these, Samuel Salt.