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William Makepeace Thackeray

De la Wikipedia, enciclopedia liber

William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray.jpg
William Makepeace Thackeray, gravur de F. Holl, dup Samuel Lawrence, 1853

18 iulie 1811

Calcutta, India
Deces 24 decembrie 1863
Londra, Regatul Unit
NaionalitateRegatul Unit Regatul Unit


modific Consultai documentaia formatului

William Makepeace Thackeray (n. 18 iulie 1811 d. 24 decembrie 1863) a fost un
romancier englez victorian. Este cunoscut, n special, pentru capodopera sa Blciul
deertciunilor (n original, Vanity Fair).

Copilaria[modificare | modificare surs]

Copilria timpurie, cnd a crescut n lux ca un mic prin, n India, s-a ncheiat la
vrsta de cinci ani, moment n care a fost trimis n Anglia la coal.[1]

Opere[modificare | modificare surs]

The Yellowplush Papers (1837) - ISBN 0-8095-9676-8
Catherine (1839) - ISBN 1-4065-0055-0
A Shabby Genteel Story (1840) - ISBN 1-4101-0509-1
The Irish Sketchbook (1843) - ISBN 0-86299-754-2
The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq. (1844), dup care s-a fcut filmul Barry Lyndon
de Stanley Kubrick - ISBN 0-19-283628-5
The Book of Snobs (1848) - ISBN 0-8095-9672-5

Vanity Fair (1848), mpreun Becky Sharp - ISBN 0-14-062085-0

Pendennis (1848 1850) - ISBN 1-4043-8659-9
Rebecca and Rowena (1850), o parodie dup romanul Ivanhoe - ISBN 1-84391-018-7
Men's Wives (1852) - ISBN 0-14-062085-1
The History of Henry Esmond (1852) - ISBN 0-14-143916-5
The Newcomes (1855) - ISBN 0-460-87495-0
The Rose and the Ring (1855) - ISBN 1-4043-2741-X
The Virginians (1857 1859) - ISBN 1-4142-3952-1
The Adventures of Philip (1862) - ISBN 1-4101-0510-5
Denis Duval (1864) - ISBN 1-4191-1561-8
Sketches and Travels in London
Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo

William Makepeace Thackeray

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Thackeray" redirects here. For other uses, see Thackeray (disambiguation).
William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray by Jesse Harrison Whitehurst-crop.jpg
Photograph of William Makepeace Thackeray
Born William Makepeace Thackeray
18 July 1811
Calcutta, British India
Died 24 December 1863 (aged 52)
London, England
Occupation Novelist, Poet



Period 18291864 (published posthumously)

Genre Historical Fiction
Notable works

Vanity Fair


Isabella Gethin Shawe


Anne Isabella (18371919)

Jane (1838?1839?)
Harriet Marian (18401875)
William Makepeace Thackeray (/kri/; 18 July 1811 24 December 1863) was an
English novelist of the 19th century. He was famous for his satirical works,
particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society.

Contents [hide]
1 Biography
2 Works
3 Family
3.1 Parents
3.2 Descendents
4 Reputation and legacy
5 List of works
6 See also
7 References
8 Sources
9 External links
Thackeray, an only child, was born in Calcutta,[1] India, where his father, Richmond
Thackeray (1 September 1781 13 September 1815), was secretary to the board of
revenue in the British East India Company. His mother, Anne Becher (17921864)

was the second daughter of Harriet Becher and John Harman Becher, who was also
a secretary (writer) for the East India Company.

William's father, Richmond, died in 1815, which caused his mother to send him to
England in 1816 (whilst she remained in India). The ship on which he travelled made
a short stopover at St. Helena where the imprisoned Napoleon was pointed out to
him. Once in England he was educated at schools in Southampton and Chiswick and
then at Charterhouse School, where he was a close friend of John Leech. He disliked
Charterhouse,[2] parodying it in his later fiction as "Slaughterhouse". (Nevertheless
Thackeray was honoured in the Charterhouse Chapel with a monument after his
death.) Illness in his last year there (during which he reportedly grew to his full
height of 6' 3") postponed his matriculation at Trinity College, Cambridge, until
February 1829. Never too keen on academic studies, he left the University in 1830,
though some of his earliest writing appeared in university publications The Snob
and The Gownsman.[3]

He travelled for some time on the continent, visiting Paris and Weimar, where he
met Goethe. He returned to England and began to study law at the Middle Temple,
but soon gave that up. On reaching the age of 21, he came into his inheritance but
he squandered much of it on gambling and by funding two unsuccessful
newspapers, The National Standard and The Constitutional, for which he had hoped
to write. He also lost a good part of his fortune in the collapse of two Indian banks.
Forced to consider a profession to support himself, he turned first to art, which he
studied in Paris, but did not pursue it except in later years as the illustrator of some
of his own novels and other writings.

Thackeray portrayed by Eyre Crowe, 1845

Thackeray's years of semi-idleness ended after he married (20 August 1836)
Isabella Gethin Shawe (18161893), second daughter of Isabella Creagh Shawe and
Matthew Shawe, a colonel, who had died after extraordinary service, primarily in
India. They had three children, all girls: Anne Isabella (18371919), Jane (died at 8
months) and Harriet Marian (18401875). He now began "writing for his life", as he
put it, turning to journalism in an effort to support his young family.

He primarily worked for Fraser's Magazine, a sharp-witted and sharp-tongued

conservative publication, for which he produced art criticism, short fictional

sketches, and two longer fictional works, Catherine and The Luck of Barry Lyndon.
From 1837 to 1840 he also reviewed books for The Times.[4] He was also a regular
contributor to The Morning Chronicle and The Foreign Quarterly Review. Later,
through his connection to the illustrator John Leech, he began writing for the newly
created Punch magazine, where he published The Snob Papers, later collected as
The Book of Snobs. This work popularised the modern meaning of the word "snob".

Tragedy struck in his personal life as his wife succumbed to depression after the
birth of their third child in 1840. Finding he could get no work done at home, he
spent more and more time away, until September of that year, when he realised
how grave her condition was. Struck by guilt, he took his ailing wife to Ireland.
During the crossing she threw herself from a water-closet into the sea, but she was
pulled from the waters. They fled back home after a four-week domestic battle with
her mother. From November 1840 to February 1842 she was in and out of
professional care, her condition waxing and waning.

Caricature of Thackeray by Thackeray

She eventually deteriorated into a permanent state of detachment from reality,
unaware of the world around her. Thackeray desperately sought cures for her, but
nothing worked, and she ended up confined in a home near Paris. She remained
there until 1893, outliving her husband by thirty years. After his wife's illness,
Thackeray became a de facto widower, never establishing another permanent
relationship. He did pursue other women, in particular Mrs. Jane Brookfield, and
Sally Baxter. In 1851 Mr Brookfield barred Thackeray from further visits to or
correspondence with Jane. Baxter, an American twenty years his junior whom he
met during a lecture tour in New York City in 1852, married another man in 1855.

In the early 1840s, Thackeray had some success with two travel books, The Paris
Sketch Book and The Irish Sketch Book. He achieved more recognition with his Snob
Papers (serialised 1846/7, published in book form in 1848), but the work that really
established his fame was the novel Vanity Fair, which first appeared in serialised
installments beginning in January 1847. Even before Vanity Fair completed its serial
run, Thackeray had become a celebrity, sought after by the very lords and ladies
whom he satirised; they hailed him as the equal of Dickens.

He remained "at the top of the tree," as he put it, for the remaining decade and a
half of his life, producing several large novels, notably Pendennis, The Newcomes,
and The History of Henry Esmond, despite various illnesses, including a near fatal
one that struck him in 1849 in the middle of writing Pendennis. He twice visited the
United States on lecture tours during this period.

Thackeray also gave lectures in London on the English humorists of the eighteenth
century, and on the first four Hanoverian monarchs. The latter series was published
in book form as The Four Georges. In Oxford, he stood unsuccessfully as an
independent for Parliament. He was narrowly beaten by Cardwell (1070 votes,
against 1005 for Thackeray).

In 1860 Thackeray became editor of the newly established Cornhill Magazine, but
was never comfortable as an editor, preferring to contribute to the magazine as a
columnist, producing his Roundabout Papers for it.

A granite, horizontal gravestone fenced by metal railings, among other graves in a

Thackeray's grave at Kensal Green Cemetery, London, photographed in 2014
His health worsened during the 1850s and he was plagued by a recurring stricture
of the urethra that laid him up for days at a time. He also felt he had lost much of
his creative impetus. He worsened matters by over-eating and drinking and avoiding
exercise, though he enjoyed horseback riding (he kept a horse). He has been
described as "the greatest literary glutton who ever lived". His main activity apart
from writing was "guttling and gorging".[5] He could not break his addiction to spicy
peppers, further ruining his digestion. On 23 December 1863, after returning from
dining out and before dressing for bed, Thackeray suffered a stroke and was found
dead in his bed in the morning. His death at the age of fifty-two was entirely
unexpected, and shocked his family, friends, and reading public. An estimated 7000
people attended his funeral at Kensington Gardens. He was buried on 29 December
at Kensal Green Cemetery, and a memorial bust sculpted by Marochetti can be
found in Westminster Abbey.

Thackeray began as a satirist and parodist, writing works that displayed a sneaking
fondness for roguish upstarts such as Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair, and the title

characters of The Luck of Barry Lyndon and Catherine. In his earliest works, writing
under such pseudonyms as Charles James Yellowplush, Michael Angelo Titmarsh and
George Savage Fitz-Boodle, he tended towards savagery in his attacks on high
society, military prowess, the institution of marriage and hypocrisy.

Title-page to Vanity Fair, drawn by Thackeray, who furnished the illustrations for
many of his earlier editions.
One of his earliest works, "Timbuctoo" (1829), contains his burlesque upon the
subject set for the Cambridge Chancellor's Medal for English Verse (the contest was
won by Tennyson with "Timbuctoo"). Thackeray's writing career really began with a
series of satirical sketches now usually known as The Yellowplush Papers, which
appeared in Fraser's Magazine beginning in 1837. These were adapted for BBC
Radio 4 in 2009, with Adam Buxton playing Charles Yellowplush.[6]

Between May 1839 and February 1840 Fraser's published the work sometimes
considered Thackeray's first novel, Catherine. Originally intended as a satire of the
Newgate school of crime fiction, it ended up being more of a rollicking picaresque
tale. He also began work, never finished, on the novel later published as A Shabby
Genteel Story.

In The Luck of Barry Lyndon, a novel serialised in Fraser's in 1844, Thackeray

explored the situation of an outsider trying to achieve status in high society, a
theme he developed more successfully in Vanity Fair with the character of Becky
Sharp, the artist's daughter who rises nearly to the heights by manipulating the
other characters.

He is best known now for Vanity Fair, with its deft skewerings of human foibles and
its roguishly attractive heroine. His large novels from the period after Vanity Fair
were once described by Henry James as examples of "loose baggy monsters" and
have largely faded from view, perhaps because they reflect a mellowing in
Thackeray, who had become so successful with his satires on society that he
seemed to lose his zest for attacking it. These later works include Pendennis, a
bildungsroman depicting the coming of age of Arthur Pendennis, an alter ego of
Thackeray, who also features as the narrator of two later novels, The Newcomes
and The Adventures of Philip. The Newcomes is noteworthy for its critical portrayal
of the "marriage market," while Philip is known for its semi-autobiographical

depiction of Thackeray's early life, in which he partially regains some of his early
satirical power.

Also notable among the later novels is The History of Henry Esmond, in which
Thackeray tried to write a novel in the style of the eighteenth century, a period that
held a great appeal for him. Not only Esmond but also Barry Lyndon and Catherine
are set in that period, as is the sequel to Esmond, The Virginians, which takes place
in America and includes George Washington as a character who nearly kills one of
the protagonists in a duel.


Anne Becher and William Makepeace Thackeray, c.1813

Thackeray's father, Richmond Thackeray, was born at South Mimms and went to
India in 1798 at age sixteen as a writer (civil servant) with the East India Company.
Richmond fathered a daughter, Sarah Redfield, in 1804 with Charlotte Sophia Rudd,
his possibly Eurasian mistress, and both mother and daughter were named in his
will. Such liaisons were common among gentlemen of the East India Company, and
it formed no bar to his later courting and marrying William's mother.[7]

His mother, Anne Becher, born 1792, was "one of the reigning beauties of the day"
and a daughter of John Harmon Becher (Collector of the South 24 Parganas district
d. Calcutta, 1800), of an old Bengal civilian family "noted for the tenderness of its
women". Anne Becher, her sister Harriet, and widowed mother Harriet, had been
sent back to India by her authoritarian guardian grandmother, widow Ann Becher, in
1809 on the Earl Howe. Anne's grandmother had told her that the man she loved,
Henry Carmichael-Smyth, an ensign of the Bengal Engineers whom she met at an
Assembly Ball in 1807 in Bath, Somerset, had died, and he was told that Anne was
no longer interested in him; neither of these was true. Though Carmichael-Smyth
was from a distinguished Scottish military family, Anne's grandmother went to
extreme lengths to prevent their marriage; surviving family letters state that she
wanted a better match for her granddaughter.[8]

Anne Becher and Richmond Thackeray were married in Calcutta on 13 October

1810. Their only child, William, was born on 18 July 1811.[9] There was a fine

miniature portrait of Anne Becher Thackeray and William Makepeace Thackeray,

about age 2, done in Madras by George Chinnery c. 1813.[10]

Anne's family's deception was unexpectedly revealed in 1812, when Richmond

Thackeray unwittingly invited the supposedly dead Carmichael-Smyth to dinner. Five
years later, after Richmond had died of a fever on 13 September 1815, Anne
married Henry Carmichael-Smyth on 13 March 1817. The couple moved to England
in 1820, after having sent William off to school there more than three years earlier.
The separation from his mother had a traumatic effect on the young Thackeray
which he discussed in his essay "On Letts's Diary" in The Roundabout Papers.

Thackeray is also an ancestor of UK financier Ryan Williams, and British comedian Al
Murray's great-great-great-grandfather.[11]

Reputation and legacy[edit]

Etching of Thackeray, ca. 1867

During the Victorian era, Thackeray was ranked second only to Charles Dickens, but
he is now much less read and is known almost exclusively for Vanity Fair. In that
novel he was able to satirise whole swaths of humanity while retaining a light touch.
It also features his most memorable character, the engagingly roguish Becky Sharp.
As a result, unlike Thackeray's other novels, it remains popular with the general
reading public; it is a standard fixture in university courses and has been repeatedly
adapted for movies and television.

In Thackeray's own day, some commentators, such as Anthony Trollope, ranked his
History of Henry Esmond as his greatest work, perhaps because it expressed
Victorian values of duty and earnestness, as did some of his other later novels. It is
perhaps for this reason that they have not survived as well as Vanity Fair, which
satirises those values.

Thackeray saw himself as writing in the realistic tradition and distinguished himself
from the exaggerations and sentimentality of Dickens. Some later commentators

have accepted this self-evaluation and seen him as a realist, but others note his
inclination to use eighteenth-century narrative techniques, such as digressions and
talking to the reader, and argue that through them he frequently disrupts the
illusion of reality. The school of Henry James, with its emphasis on maintaining that
illusion, marked a break with Thackeray's techniques.

2 Palace Green, a house built for Thackeray in the 1860s, is currently the permanent
residence of the Israeli Embassy to the United Kingdom.[12] A Royal Society of Arts
blue plaque was unveiled in 1887 to commemorate Thackeray at Palace Green.[13]

His former home in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, is now a fine dining restaurant named
after the author.[citation needed]

List of works[edit]
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
William Makepeace Thackeray
The Yellowplush Papers (1837) ISBN 0-8095-9676-8
Catherine (183940) ISBN 1-4065-0055-0
A Shabby Genteel Story (1840) ISBN 1-4101-0509-1
The Irish Sketchbook (1843) ISBN 0-86299-754-2
The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844), filmed as Barry Lyndon by Stanley Kubrick ISBN
Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo (1846), under the name Mr M. A.
Mrs. Perkins's Ball (1846), under the name M. A. Titmarsh
The Book of Snobs (1848), which popularised that term- ISBN 0-8095-9672-5
Vanity Fair (1848) ISBN 0-14-062085-0
Pendennis (18481850) ISBN 1-4043-8659-9
Rebecca and Rowena (1850), a parody sequel of Ivanhoe ISBN 1-84391-018-7
The Paris Sketchbook (1840), featuring Roger Bontemps

Men's Wives (1852) ISBN 0-14-062085-1

The History of Henry Esmond (1852) ISBN 0-14-143916-5
The Newcomes (1855) ISBN 0-460-87495-0
The Rose and the Ring (1855) ISBN 1-4043-2741-X
The Virginians (18571859) ISBN 1-4142-3952-1
Four Georges (1860-1861) - ISBN 978-1410203007
The Adventures of Philip (1862) ISBN 1-4101-0510-5
Roundabout Papers (1863)
Denis Duval (1864) ISBN 1-4191-1561-8
The Orphan of Pimlico (1876)
Sketches and Travels in London
Stray Papers: Being Stories, Reviews, Verses, and Sketches (1821-1847)
Literary Essays
The English Humorists of the eighteenth century: a series of lectures (1867)
Lovel the Widower
Christmas Books
Samuel Titmarsh
Irish Sketchbook volume 2
Character Sketches
Critical Reviews
Second Funeral of Napoleon