William Makepeace Thackeray Biography

(Author & Novelist)

Birthday: July 18, 1811 (Cancer)

Born In: Kolkata, West Bengal, India

William Makepeace Thackeray was an English author, novelist and satirist who gained international fame and popularity for his novel Vanity Fair. His most famous works include novels Catherine, The Luck of Barry Lyndon and The Adventures of Philip. Initially started as a satirist and parodist, Thackeray produced some of fine examples of this genre. Among them are Timbuctoo, published in 1829, and a collection of fictional sketches The Yellowiplush Papers published in 1837. The author was also a journalist and columnist and contributed sketches for the Fraser's magazine before writing his first novel. By as early as 1940, Thackeray had gained popularity with the release of his two travel books The Paris Sketch Book and The Irish Sketch Book. Nevertheless, his most enduring success came in 1847, with the release of the novel Vanity Fair, which became his masterpiece and one of is best known works. The author died on 24 December 1863.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In July, Indian Celebrities Born In July

Died At Age: 52


Spouse/Ex-: Isabella Gethin Shawe

father: Richmond Thackeray

mother: Anne Becher

children: Anne Isabella, Harriet Marian, Jane

Born Country: India

Quotes By William Makepeace Thackeray Novelists

Died on: December 24, 1863

place of death: London, England

City: Kolkata, India

More Facts

education: Trinity College, Cambridge, Charterhouse School, University of Cambridge

Childhood & Early Life
William Thackeray was born on 18 July 1811 in Calcutta, India. His father Richmond Thackeray was a high rank secretary to the board of revenue in the British East India Company. Anne Becher, his mother was also a secretary writer for the East India Company. At age five, William went on attending his first school St. Helena and then at Charterhouse School, which he loathed in part due to the teasing he was subjected to there. His abhorrence for the school is evident in his later fictions where he chose to call it mockingly a "Slaughterhouse". Upon completion of the initial school, he went on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge but left it in the middle of the session in 1830. Around this period, he had started writing for the college magazine The Snob and The Gownsman.
After an extensive trip to Paris and Weimar, he returned to England and enrolled at the Middle Temple to study law. Once again he gave up, leaving the college soon. Upon inheriting his father's assets at the age of 21, he invested in two newspapers The National Standard and The Constitutional and lost the money The National Standard and The Constitutional as they crumpled down soon. He worsened the condition by investing in banks that were at the verge of becoming insolvent and when this happened, he was coerced to find a job to support himself. For sometime, he worked as an artist.
Marriage & Early Career
Thackeray courted and on 20 August 1836, married Isabella Gethin Shawe, daughter of Mathew Shawe, a colonel. The marriage forced him to find a viable and stable source of income and he finally got a job with Fraser's Magazine. As a journalist, he wrote art criticism alongside contributing sketches. During this period, he produced two fictional works Catherine and The Luck of Barry Lyndon. He began working for a magazine Punch, publishing The Snob Papers. The works would later become known as The Book of Snobs.  
The book gave him initial success and fame, however, the happiness was overshadowed by the growing illness of his wife, who had reached in her last phase of depression. In 1840, he took his wife to Ireland in a hope to improve her condition, though it hardly helped him in the matter. She threw herself in to the sea on their way to Ireland and was rescued by the sea men. Two years after in 1842, she was confined in a home in Paris, where she lived until her death in 1893.
Later Career & Success
By as early as 1940, Thackeray had gained popularity with the release of his two travel books The Paris Sketch Book and The Irish Sketch Book. His landmark success came in 1847, when the novel Vanity Fair was first published and soon became one of his most remembered works. With the stunning success of the novel, Thackeray reached at the peak of his success and produced a number of large novels including Pendennis, The Newcomes, and The History of Henry Esmond. In 1849, he suffered from a deadly attack of illness which left him bedridden for months. Despite his ailing health and reduced energy, Thackeray continued lecturing at various Universities and seminars.

In 1860, he was made editor of the Cornhill Magazine. Though he preferred the role of a columnist and continued to contribute his Roundabout Papers for the magazine.  By this time, his health had worsened and he began showing the similar traits of depression as his wife's, partly motivated by the frustration from his reduced creativity. His over eating and addiction to black pepper further damaged his digestion and made him a heart patient. On the night of 23 December 1863, the author attended a dinner party and was found dead in his bedroom the next morning. He was fifty two years old at the time of his death. A funeral was held at Kensington Gardens and he was buried on 29 December at Kensal Green Cemetery.      
Notable Works
Initially known as a satirist and parodist, Thackeray used pseudonyms as Charles James Yellowplush, Michael Angelo Titmarsh and George Savage Fitz-Boodle for his early writings. Timbuctoo, published in 1829, is one of his best satirical works. Another satirical work, a collection of fictional sketches appeared in Fraser's Magazine entitled as The Yellowiplush Papers in 1837. The work was adapted for BBC Radio 4 in 2009. Thackeray's first successful venture as novelist was Catherine, a novel published between 1839 and 1840. Another satirical novel published in Fraser's is The Luck of Barry Lyndon, a story based upon a foreigner trying to attain high position in the society. Nevertheless, his best works remains the novel Vanity Fair, a story based upon an attractive woman. Also among his later notable works, is the novel The Adventures of Philip, a semi autobiographical account of his early life.  

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