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The Devil Kissed Her: the Story of Mary Lamb Paperback – 17 Oct 2005
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A model of good biographical writing. Watson writes in a pure, clear style with both enthusiasm and intelligence -- Sunday Tribune
A wonderful, moving and vivid book -- Amanda Foreman
Kathy Watson has achieved the rare combination of sensitive, meticulous research with readability -- Virginia Rounding, Sunday Times
Riveting offers an indelible portrait of two of literatures most intriguing figures -- Val Hennessy, Daily Mail
About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
She went on to be a writer (with her brother, "lamb's Tales From Shakespeare") and be part of a literary circle that included a lot of writer contemporaries.
She went to a mental asylum several times in her life.
This book presents a good picture of a certain British subculture and also of the state of mental health in her day and time.
I found it interesting throughout.
p. 122 A Midsummer's Night Dream
p. 123 A Midsummer Night's Dream
p. 124 A Midsummer's Night's Dream
How can anyone (author or editor) allow that to happen over the brief course of three pages?
The author has no idea how to punctuate relative clauses after proper nouns, so we get a strange mixture of "use the comma this time" and "don't use the comma in the next sentence. "Oxberry, who..." followed by "Barnett who...." On p. 158, we get one paragraph that contains "Monkhouse, who..." and "Burney who..." and "Alsager, who...."
When you add things like "grammer" (p. 121), you end up with a book that is laughably unreadable, which is a pity because this is a very interesting story. Mary Lamb murders her mother and then spends the rest of her long life in and out of insane asylums, while her famous brother (Charles Lamb) tries to take care of her. Even when they both achieve literary fame, the ominous shadow of the madhouse looms over them. But the importance of the story is negated by the constant punctuation errors.
She hints also that Mary was drawn to many men, including the romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was so sexy that she just couldn't help herself when he was around. Charles eventually had to ask Coleridge not to come around because a visit from him would find Mary going a little crazy.
Watson brings us into the early 19th century world of the madhouse, which is a pretty creepy place. Women with private means like Mary Lamb had their own rooms and own attendants, but still they must have seen some dreadful sights, making their lives very different from other women of their class who were in general protected from the seamy. You can never forget however, that Mary killed her own mother with a knife, a crime so rare that people hardly ever run into it, even judges with long histories of criminal cases, even hardened homicide cops. Why did she do it? Watson provides a limited answer. In my mind Mary Lamb's psychology was similar to Lizzie Borden's, except she was perhaps more lovable and had more of a humorous nature. But both were brooders and both nurtured an unassimilable hatred toward the patriarchal structure of the family.