How could I have forgotten Charles Lamb's background? Here, in the words of Phillip Lopate (To Show and to Tell):
"At the age of twenty, Lamb witnessed a horrific family tragedy: his beloved sister Mary, under a great nervous strain from having to attend to her ailing parents and run the household while taking in needlework, stabbed their mother to death and wounded their father ... Mary was spared prison by the courts and remanded to the custody of her younger brother, who took care of her (as she did him) for the rest of their lives ... Periodically Mary would suffer relapses and have to be readmitted to the madhouse ... In general, however, his sister provided a calm domestic stability that allowed Charles to persist at his tedious clerical job and hone his craft after hours as a writer."