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William Makepeace Thackeray 1811-1863

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William Makepeace Thackeray 1811-l863

Thackeray was born in Calcutta, India. He was the son of a high official in the East India Company. Then he was sent to England to be educated there, but those years were miserable for him. Much happier was the period that he spent at Trinity College. Thackeray did not show much inclination to studies or to writing in his juvenile years however, he became a journalist, in London, for some of the best periodicals of the time.

Thackeray was also a talented artist. Many of his articles were accompanied by his own sketches, and he later illustrated his own most famous novels. His The Snobs of England, later published in book form as The Book of Snobs, was serialised in Punch (a famous journal). In it he satirised most of the defects of the British character and of men in general.

Thackeray's first serious novel, Barry Lindon, is set in the eighteen century, an age that the author always loved and to which he looked back with nostalgia.

His first great novel, Vanity Fair, centres on the adventures of a young woman who makes her way through the world by any possible means.

To his contemporaries Thackeray appeared as a cynical observer of life, and his humour seemed corrosive. His humour in fact diverges from Dickens' only in being expressed with gentleman-like superiority

Thackeray's realism today seems stifled by Victorian conventions, as the author himself confessed.

Thackeray rejected the idea that novels should be organised around improbable coincidences of plot, like Dickens' stories. His real subject was always the lives of ordinary men and women.


● "And God Created Snobs" (From The Book of Snobs)


The novel published in the second half of the nineteenth century are clearly different from those of the early Victorian period. The novelists were more interested in the study of their characters' psychology and in formal problems. Writers as George Eliot, Robert Louis Stevenson and Thomas Hardy all contributed much to the novel as a genre.

The late Victorian novel featured a tendency towards realism, reacting against Romantic or sentimental visions of man; was also studied the influence of the social environment on man.


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