HAPPY BIRTHDAY – William Makepeace Thackeray, born 18 July 1811
“A good laugh is sunshine in the house.”
Today Thackeray is best remembered for just one novel, Vanity Fair. It is a fabulous read. Don’t be put off by its length. It is funny, satirical, clever, of great interest historically, and it has one of the most memorable heroines in all of literature. I love the scenes where Becky is netting a purse for Jos Sedley and trying to trap him into marriage, and then the wretched man gets drunk at Vauxhall Gardens and slips through the net she has woven for him. There are also several film versions of the novel – watching Miriam Margoyles as Aunt Crawley is a joy!
However, there are other Thackeray novels well worth reading – Barry Lyndon is about an Irish adventurer and is an entertaining read (it was also wonderfully filmed with Ryan O’Neal as Lyndon), and I remember loving Pendennis although it is a long time since I read it. Thackeray thought his own best novel was The Virginians, but I found that dull and far too long.
Thackeray’s own life is also fascinating. Did you know that Charlotte Bronte dedicated her Jane Eyre to him, meaning the dedication as a great compliment, but actually making a terrible faux pas? Thackeray’s wife had gone insane and was shut away in an asylum! He was a wonderful father to their two daughters, and had to cope with the problem of being married, but being unable to live with his wife in any normal way.
William Makepeace Thackeray died in London on 24 December 1863, aged 52.
Have you read his work? Tell me in the comment area below.
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