"'One of the most conspicuous landmarks in the history of the romantic movement.' This is how Charles and Mary Lamb's most famous work, Tales from Shakespeare, has been described. First published in 1807, it has never been out of print. Considering their situation at the centre of the Romantic movement (their close friends included William Wordsworth, Samual Taylor Coleridge, William Hazlitt and Mary Shelley) comparatively little attention has been paid to this extraordinary brother-sister partnership." "Wordsworth thought that if there were such a thing as a good man, it would be Charles Lamb, while Hazlitt believed Mary Lamb to be the only sensible woman he had ever come across: it was as much for their personal qualities, as for their professional skills, that the Lambs were known. Yet Sarah Burton's fascinating wide-ranging account brings into focus the secrets they screened from their public: Charles was a depressive alcoholic and Mary had, in an attack of insanity, stabbed their mother to death. She continued throughout her life to suffer bouts of violent derangement." "A Double Life penetrates to the heart of early nineteenth-century London, meeting its eccentrics and misfits as well as its literary giants. It also visits the city's darker corners, where poverty stalks rented rooms and madhouses conceal corruption and abuse. At the centre of the narrative stand the inseparable brother and sister, highly esteemed for their literary talents and loved for their charm and generosity, yet living under the constant shadow of insanity."--BOOK JACKET.