Shakespeare is one of the greatest writers in the English language. This sixteenth century playwright wrote several wonderful plays that are considered masterpieces of English literature. However, they are not easy to read for children. So, the Lambs, Charles and his sister Mary, sat down and wrote condensed, easier versions. They are presented in the form of simple prose, instead of plays.
Tales From Shakespeare, first published in 1807, consists of 20 plays. Charles and Mary Lamb are said to have worked together, simultaneously, writing in the same room. They choose their plays carefully, leaving out Roman and Historic plays, and selecting a few tragedies and a set of comedies. Charles wrote the adaptations of the tragedies like Othello, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. Mary Lamb worked on all the comedies, including the adaptations of Twelfth Night, The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, and Much Ado About Nothing.
Leaving out the intricate and confusing aspects of the originals, they wrote the stories as linear, straightforward tales that children could easily read and understand. However, as the authors say in the preface, they tried to retain the beauty of the original works. They used the bard’s own words wherever possible. They also tried as far as possible to eliminate words that entered the English language since the time of Shakespeare.
Tales From Shakespeare is a charming presentation of the famous playwrights works, targeted at young readers. It introduces them to his works, and whets their appetite for more. It encourages them at a later stage to read his works in their original form.
About The Authors
Charles Lamb was an English Essayist.
His other works include On the Tragedies of Shakespeare, Specimens of English Dramatic Poets Who Lived About the Time of Shakespeare, and Witches and Other Night Fears.
Charles Lamb was born in London in 1775. He was the youngest child of John lamb, a lawyer’s clerk. Of all his siblings, he was closest to his older sister Mary, who was eleven years older than him. Charles Lamb suffered from depression which at one time forced him to be confined in a mental institution.
Mary Lamb was an English writer.
Mary Lamb was born in 1764 in London. Mary had to care for her invalid mother, her ageing father and her brother John who had been injured in an accident. This constant demand on her time and attention began to affect her mental health. She ended up killing her mother and being shut up in a mental institution for sometime. Her brother Charles then undertook the responsibility of caring for her. They lived together till Charles’ death in 1834.