Tales from Shakespeare is an English children's book written by the siblings Charles and Mary Lamb in 1807, intended "for the use of young persons" while retaining as much Shakespearean language as possible. Mary Lamb was responsible for retelling the comedies and Charles the tragedies. They omitted the more complex historical tales, including all Roman plays, and modified those they chose to retell in a manner sensitive to the needs of young children, but without resorting to actual censoring. However, subplots and sexual references were removed. They wrote the preface together. Marina Warner, in her introduction to the 2007 Penguin Classics edition, claims that Mary did not get her name on the title page till the seventh edition in 1838. Despite its original target audience, "very young" children from the early twenty-first century might find this book a challenging read, and alternatives are available. Nevertheless, the retelling of Lamb siblings remains uniquely faithful to the original and as such can be useful to children when they read or learn the plays as Shakespeare wrote them.
The book is divided into two volumes, with Charles taking charge of Shakespeare's tragedies while Mary chose to work on the comedies and some of the historical plays. The preface was a joint effort and the book has remained a classic in its own right, delighting generations of children and spurring them on to read the original works of Shakespeare. Tales from Shakespeare was at one time, prescribed reading not just for children, but also for young women who were being groomed for marriage as a fundamental part of their literary education.
Charles Lamb was an English essayist, poet, and antiquarian, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children's book Tales from Shakespeare, co-authored with his sister, Mary Lamb (1764&nd...More about Charles Lamb
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