Born at 2 Crown Office Row, Inner Temple. Studied at Christ's Hospital where he became friends with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. "Elia" is the pseudonym Lamb used for a series of essays he wrote for the London Magazine and then published in book form, 1821 - 33.
Charles and his sister Mary both experienced periods of insanity but Mary outclassed him. In 1796, aged 32, Mary stabbed and killed their mother with a table knife. Charles, only aged 21, rescued Mary from a life in prison by taking responsibility for her. They lived together for the rest of his life, leading a rich social life in London, moving to Edmonton in 1828.
Prior to her fit of madness Mary had been the chief bread-winner for her family through her industry as a needlewoman. She was clever, creative, responsible, serene and sensible. However their mother always displayed a distinct preference for Charles, leaving Mary emotionally deprived since childhood. After the murder Charles swiftly had Mary confined in a private madhouse in Islington so that her insanity could be established, as a safeguard against judicial punishment. She apparently made a full recovery, of sorts, since, for the rest of her life, she suffered occasional "distempers" and thenceforth "the Lambs never left home without a straitjacket". They moved from Islington to Enfield in 1827 and to Edmonton in 1833 where Charles died at Walden's/Bay Cottage, Church Street. Mary deteriorated and died 12 years later in 1847. Both were buried in Edmonton Churchyard.