The Accounting Historians Journal Vol. 17, No. 2 December 1990
Baladouni UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS
CHARLES LAMB: A MAN OF LETTERS AND A CLERK IN THE ACCOUNTANT'S DEPARTMENT OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY
Abstract: Charles Lamb (1775-1834), English author, who became fa-mous for his informal, personal essays and literary criticism, is pre-sented here in his vocational role as accounting clerk. Lamb's long years of experience in and out of London's counting-houses permitted him to capture the early nineteenth-century business and accounting life in some/>f his renowned essays and letters to friends. His unique wit, humor, and warm humanity bring to life one of the most interest-ing periods in accounting history.
A contemporary and lifelong friend with many of the literary figures of the Romantic movement, such as Coleridge, Words-worth, De Quincey, Southey, Hazlitt, and Hunt, Charles Lamb (1775-1834) is chiefly remembered for his highly individual and penetrating literary criticism and personal essays written under the pen name Elia. The essays were later collected and published by their author in two volumes: Essays of Elia (1823) and Last Es-says of Elia (1833). Reputed for their wit, humor, and humanity, these essays reveal the true literary genius of Lamb. Aside from these accomplishments, Lamb also has the distinction of being among the greatest of English letter writers.
But literature was only an avocation for Lamb. To earn a living, he had to join the ranks of hard-working wage earners. Not yet quite fifteen, Lamb left school to become a clerk in the service of Joseph Paice, a London merchant. A year later, he moved to another job in the South Sea House. After six months on this job, Lamb made a final move to become a clerk in the Accountant's
The author acknowledges with thanks the assistance of Walta Heideman, graduate assistant.