Charles & Mary

Carlo Gebler

About the book…

Once upon a time Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare would be given to Victorian children to prepare them before they went to the theatre. What wasn't known by the generations of readers who loved Lamb's Tales was that behind the beautiful and clear summaries of Shakespeare's best-known plays lay a complex family tragedy. 

Lamb's Tales had two authors, the brother and sister Charles and Mary Lamb but Mary's name was suppressed when the Tales were first published as she suffered periodic episodes of insanity and during one of these she had stabbed their mother to death. Maryês co-authorship was only acknowledged after her death. 

Carlo Gebler's play explores the complicated relationship of Charles and Mary. Eleven years older than her brother, it was Mary who raised Charles. However, once a Coronerês Court ruled she had committed her offence while insane Charles became responsible for her. This duty of care lasted until he died and it affected his life in ways both good and bad. 

It hobbled his relationships but it also helped him to write his best work. The volume also contains, in addition to the play Charles & Mary, two libretti - Adolf Gebler, Clarinettist and The Room in the Tower, both specially written for the Irish composer Roger Doyle.

Photo of the author, Carlo Gebler

About the author…

Carlo Gébler was born Dublin in 1954, the eldest son of writer parents, Ernest Gébler and Edna O'Brien. He was educated at Bedales School, the University of York, where he studied English, and the National Film & Television School. He has a PhD from Queen's University, Belfast.

Carlo Gébler started his career in television and made a number of documentary films for Channel 4 and others including Over Here, Plain Tales from Northern Ireland, Put to the Test, Student Life, and The Suspecting Glance.

His most recent work for television was The Siege (2013), about the 1689 siege of Derry, aired on BBC Northern Ireland, which he wrote and presented. 

Carlo Gébler is also the author of several novels including; August in July (1987), Malachy and his Family (1991), Life of a Drum (1992), The Cure (1995), How To Murder a Man (1999), A Good Day for a Dog (2008), and The Eleventh Summer (2002) and, most recently, The Dead Eight (2011), which was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. His other works include the short story collection W9 & Other Lives (2011), as well as several works of non-fiction including his memoir, Father & I (2001), and the narrative history, The Siege of Derry (2008).

He has also written several novels for children including Caught on a Train, (2001) which was awarded the Bisto prize, and August ’44, (2003), as well as several plays for both radio and the stage, including; Dance of Death,  December Bride, 10 Rounds, Henry & Harriet,  and, most recently, Charles & Mary. a play for BBC Radio 3, about the lives of the brother and sister who wrote the classic children’s introduction to Shakespeare.

Carlo Gébler’s other literary work includes the librettos for Adolf Gébler, Clarinettist and The Room for the Tower.

He has also written extensively in publications such as the Critical Quarterly, The Dublin Review, Fiction Magazine, The Financial Times, The Guardian, and The Irish Independent, amongst others.

As well as his film-making and literary work, Carlo Gébler has also worked as a teacher and academic. In the early nineties he was the creative writing tutor at the Maze prison and since 1997 he has been the writer-in-residence in HMP Maghaberry. In addition he has taught creative writing at Trinity College, Dublin, where he has been a visiting fellow four times, and at Queen’s University, Belfast. 

Carlo Gebler was elected  a member of the Aosdána in 1990.  He is a past chairman of the Irish Writers’ Centre. He is married with five children and currently resides outside Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.