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The Lambs of London

3.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,560 Ratings  ·  168 Reviews
From the author of Chatterton and Shakespeare: A Biography comes a gripping novel set in London that re-imagines an infamous 19th-century Shakespeare forgery. Charles and Mary Lamb, who will in time achieve lasting fame as the authors of Tales from Shakespeare for Children, are still living at home, caring for their dotty and maddening parents. Reading Shakespeare is the s ...more
ebook, 162 pages
Published July 10th 2007 by Anchor (first published 2003)
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Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Riveting, complex & super well written, "The Lambs of London" is yet another fully submersive foray into a previous age from Ackroyd, whose magnum opus I feel ultimately to be "Hawksmoor." Here, we deal not with gothic architecture but with the Bard himself, ultimate emblem for all good British things. But what is fascinating ends up in a predictable fashion, & this is my one sole bitch (complaint). As a whole, it is elusive, distinguished & unforgettable.
I bought this book before travelling to London, along with two others that fulfilled the criteria I had decided upon: it must be a novel by an author I haven't read yet, and it must feature London in the title. Strange criteria to pick books, I realise now, and as I try to put into words what I think about this one, I wonder how the other two picks, Martin Amis' London Fields and Iain Sinclair's London Orbital, will fare. [Update: I love-hated [book:London Fields|18830], and London Orbital has n ...more
May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want Shakespeare made more interesting
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
A short sharp burst of creamy historical fiction goodness from Peter Ackroyd; a man who is basically a big walking encyclopaedia of London in "days of yore". I've read both Hawksmoor, The Fall of Troy and The House of Dr Dee and although I wasn't that enamoured of Dr Dee, Hawksmoor gets a big thumbs up and 10/10 for effort, research, and all round weirdness against the magnificent backdrop of St Pauls, both past and present.

The Lambs of London deals with Charles and Mary Lamb (if you were expec
A rather strange little book for a number of reasons. In the first place, the eponymous characters, the brother-and-sister authors Charles and Mary Lamb (1775-1834 and 1764-1847 respectively) were not the main characters of this story. That honour belonged to one William Henry Ireland (1775-1835), famous as a forger of Shakespearean articles, including a complete play, Vortigern and Rowena, which was actually produced. The majority of the book tells the tale of Ireland’s attempts to foist his ha ...more
Dana Loo
Premetto che è il primo libro di Ackroyd che leggo, anche se lo conoscevo già di fama. Romanzo storico/letterario, stilisticamente molto fluido, suggestive le descrizioni di Londra da parte del più grande "cantore" della città, profondissimo conoscitore di Shakespeare e nn solo!! Il titolo è un po' fuorviante nel senso che, chi si aspetta una storia centrata sopratutto sui fratelli Lamb, su Charles in particolare, resterà un po' deluso. In effetti si narra principalmente di un giovane falsario d ...more
It's a nice, easy read, fairly entertaining, falling a little flat at the end. Apparently based on painstaking research, though if it had been completely made-up, it would have made little difference to me. There are two rather jarring sex scenes that have no connection with the story and which I felt where there just for the sake of it. Other flashbacks and side tracks, for example about the missing girl Anne, also remain unconnected and, unlike in a novel like Woolf's "Mrs Dalloway," they do n ...more
Jen Do
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was looking for something to read, so I walked to the A's in fiction, and came across this book. I did not realize until the end that it was based on real persons, Charles and Mary Lamb, actually. Perhaps if I were more familiar with the Lambs and Shakespeare's works, I might have enjoyed it more...

Although I read this short read pretty effortlessly, I never became invested in any of the characters. In the end, I felt the book only hinted at the anguish and aspirations of some of its character
The Lambs of London, despite the title, is mostly about Ireland his foregery of Shakespeare's plays. It is not a boring book, but there is something lacking in it. At times the writer feels one step removed from some of the characters, in particular Mary Lamb who disappers for a section of the novel. The real focus of the novel is William Ireland and his relationship with his father. Ackroyd does an excellent job there showing how the family works. The title, however, is extremely misleading. Ac ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Lambs of London, as with The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, Ackroyd delights in creating alternate realities for historically relevant literary people and having those people interact with one another in a way that they never did in real life. That being said, Ackroyd so deftly interweaves historical fact with fiction that you have to be sure to read up on the actual accounts of people like Charles and Mary Lamb, lest you end up saying something stupid and factually incorrect when tryin ...more
Bülent Çallı
Shakespeare'in entelektüel mirası üzerine dönen bir takım entrikalar. Romanın iyi tarafı şu: Konusu hakkında önceden bir şeyler öğrenmeden okunursa, hikayenin gizemi ortaya çıktığında bir lezzeti var. Kötü tarafı ise o gizem ortaya çıkana kadar anlatılanlardan okuyucunun sıkılma ihtimali yüksek. Monoton ve donuk bir hali var, o bahsettiğim noktaya kadar neredeyse zorlama. Ackroyd, ses getiren bir Shakespeare biyografisi yazmıştı, bu konunun uzmanı elbette ama bu hikaye bizi bir yerlerden alıp ba ...more
Katherine Kreuter
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Rose
Plot: This is the semi-biographical story of Charles and Mary Lamb, avid readers and fanatical in their love of Shakespeare, as they meet William Ireland an antiquarian book dealer who has made an unusual discovery.

Since a lot of the events in this book are a matter of historical record, you may know some of the events of this book before you read it. I'm still going to be as vague plot wise as possible because I went in with very little knowledge and I enjoyed the surprises. All I knew of Char
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-list-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My second Ackroyd after Hawksmoor - another "historical fiction" of a sort, though he is usually getting at some other point, the nature of authenticity, in this case, and parent and child conflict.
For background, a well-educated person would know something of the life of siblings Charles and Mary Lamb (I know only enough for the frequent appearance of "ELIA" in crossword puzzles) and one would have to be several more steps immersed in late 18th century London literary life to have heard of Will
Anastasia Hobbet
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
A wildly improbable story, written with little grace, perspective, regard to history or respect for the reader.

This was my first Peter Ackroyd book, an unfortunate choice because he has written some that are considered excellent. You have to wonder, with material like the Lambs to work with, why he would change so many of the basic facts of their lives together. I read on to the end because of the chance the book gives for a gritty glimpse of the time: Ackroyd is celebrated for his knowledge of
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have long wanted to read Peter Ackroyd and I came upon this book in a used bookstore, so home it came. The story was well-paced and engaging but certainly not a must-read. It centers around Charles and Mary Lamb, fictionalized here, and Mary's acquaintance with the son of the bookseller, who claims to have found some original works of Shakespeare. Anyone very into Shakespeare, or Charles Lamb, would enjoy this book.
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-book
Some interesting facts cobbled together to make a story that is rather lightweight. A very quick and easy read. I will read more of Peter Ackroyd's fiction.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kailey Rhone
When I began reading The Lambs of London, I was impressed by the language and the imagery of an antiquated London. Mary was immediately set up as the more pitiable character in the cast, alone save her brother, and full of hate towards a mother whom she feels imprisons and belittles her (and who is likewise stuck in a domestic setting). It becomes apparent, however, that Mary isn’t the only character who is plagued by disquietude, as William, too, has a complicated relationship with a parent.

Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, audiobook
Mary Lamb lives with her parents and aspiring writer brother Charles. She falls for William Ireland after he sold a book once belonging to Shakespeare to her brother. Ireland creates quite a stir when he discovers some long lost documents associated with the Bard. Mildly interesting period piece.
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ackroyd does a lovely job of creating the central London setting for his flawed characters. The Lamb siblings did write a book, but their background fascinates. What made Mary upset is something that rings true for me - being shut up in a household that fears any shakeup is constraining.
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hist-fict
Lusteloos verhaal waar geen vaart in leek te komen.
Hmmm, I'm not really sure what to think about this one. I picked it out of my reading list because I noticed it was a period drama based loosely on real historical figures, and I wanted to see an example of another modern author's attempt to write historical fiction. I think that I sort of enjoyed it, but I have a lot of complaints about the first half of the book.

The book is written under the conceit that well-known Shakespeare forger from the late 18th century, William Ireland, gets to know Ch
Oct 02, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was in elementary school, I bought a book called Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb. It was a book for children that included prose versions of Shakespeare's plays. I loved that book and it was how I first became familiar with Shakespeare's stories, long before I was old enough to understand and appreciate the actual plays. The Lambs of London is a fictional account of the lives of Charles and Mary Lamb and their preoccupation with all things Shakespeare. The Lambs lived at t ...more
Aug 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up (one of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die) after reading a 30 page sample downloaded to my Kindle. I chose it out of about 15 other samples I had downloaded at the time because the characters of Mary and Charles Lamb in this novel intrigued me. (I checked my copy out of the library because at 213 pages it's a fairly short read.)

I'm torn between giving this three or four stars. Ackroyd has a wonderful feel for historic London, and the writing and pace of the plot is very
Dec 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
The star of this short novel is London itself, which is probably correct for a writer who specialises in writing about the city. I loved the bringing to life of pre-industrial London, the narrow streets and river crossings and the famous characters of 18th century history like Sheridan.
The story revolves round one William Ireland, a book seller, who miraculously produces Shakesperian relics and discovers a forgotten Shakeperian play to the delight of an astonished London public. He encounters Ch
Fiona Robson
“Mary Lamb is confined by the restrictions of domesticity: her father is losing his mind, her mother watchful and hostile. The great solace of her life is her brother Charles, an aspiring writer. It is no surprise when Mary falls for the bookseller's son, antiquarian William Ireland, from whom Charles has purchased a book. But this is no ordinary book - it once belonged to William Shakespeare himself. And William Ireland with his green eyes and his red hair, is no ordinary young man...

The Lambs
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ah, I had hopes for this one!

Good sides first: Ackroyd really catches the feel of history (or at least, he makes one believe he does, which is as well), makes it seem like an actual time that once was real, as opposed to some kind of fantasy land. I liked the details and the way he looked past the usual in historical fiction.

But the plot. Hm. I feel like the twist was pretty predictable (though I only half saw it coming because I kept hoping he wouldn't go there). Looking back, I'm not quite su
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Peter Ackroyd CBE is an English novelist and biographer with a particular interest in the history and culture of London.

Peter Ackroyd's mother worked in the personnel department of an engineering firm, his father having left the family home when Ackroyd was a baby. He was reading newspapers by the age of 5 and, at 9, wrote a play about Guy Fawkes. Reputedly, he first realized he was gay at the age
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