The Sailor Uncle
Mary Ann Lamb (1764 – 1847) was an English writer who battled with mental illness all her life. In 1796 during a nervous breakdown, she stabbed her mother to death and was sent to an asylum. Six months afterward, her brother Charles took over her care, and she went to live with him, and the two of them collaborated on many works of literature together. In her own writing, which is often gothic in style, there is a recurrant theme of children who have lost one or both parents in tragic circumstances and who need support in finding their way in the world. In The Sailor Uncle, little Betsy has lost her mother and her father is overwhelmed with grief, though he hides this from his daughter. The surprise visit of her dead mother's brother is at first seen as a threat and annoyance, but gradually the kindly uncle wins Betsy over by teaching her to read books and telling her fascinating stories. A second tragedy looms though, as the Sailor Uncle has to go back to sea...