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Lamb was one of the great essayists and critics of the early nineteenth century. A lifelong friend of Coleridge and a familiar figure in Romantic circles, Lamb worked and spent much of his life as a clerk at East India House from 1792 to 1825. His first success was the collection of prose adaptations for children, Tales from Shakespeare (1807), written with his sister Mary. Thanks to an introduction by Benjamin Robert Haydon, he began to contribute to the London Magazine in 1820. Using the pen-name 'Elia', Lamb wrote on various historical and topical subjects with nostalgia, warmth and humorous intelligence and his collected Essays of Elia (1823) was a huge success.
National Portrait Gallery, London
oil on canvas
H 76.2 x W 62.2 cm