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About the book
  • Published: 19 September 2012
  • ISBN: 9780141199641
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 916
  • RRP: $19.99

Vanity Fair




No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder.

The Penguin English Library Edition of Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

'Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?'
No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her sentimental companion Amelia, however, longs only for caddish soldier George. As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour of Regency society, battles - military and domestic - are fought, fortunes made and lost. The one steadfast and honourable figure in this corrupt world is Dobbin with his devotion to Amelia, bringing pathos and depth to Thackeray's gloriously satirical epic of love and social adventure.
The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

  • Pub date: 19 September 2012
  • ISBN: 9780141199641
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 916
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Authors

William Makepeace Thackeray

William Makepeace Thackeray was born on 18 July 1811 in Calcutta in India. After studying at Trinity College Cambridge he worked as a journalist and studied Art in London and Paris. In 1836 he married Isabella Shawe and they went on to have three daughters, one of whom died in infancy. He first found literary success with The Yellowplush Papers in 1837 and went on to write other works such asThe FitzBoodle Papers, Catherine, The Luck of Barry Lyndon and The Snobs of England before he published his masterpiece, Vanity Fair, in 1847. William Makepeace Thackeray died on Christmas Eve in 1863.

William Thackeray

William Makepeace Thackeray was born in Calcutta in 1811, but sent to England at the age of six. He was educated at Charterhouse and at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1833 he settled in Paris, after a major financial loss, and tried a career as a painter. It was here he met nineteen-year-old Isabella Shawe, upon whom he based many of his virtuous but weak heroines, and whom he married in 1836. A year later they settled in London, where Thackeray turned seriously to journalism.

His writing for periodicals included The Yellowplush Correspondence, which appeared first in Fraser's Magazine and then in 1841 in book form. Around this time personal and domestic pressures caused the already helpless Isabella to subside into a state of complete and permanent mental collapse and the subsequent breakdown of the marriage formed a central part of Thackeray's consciousness. His early work centred around rogues and villains, most famously in The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844; revised as The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq. in 1856), and in his masterpiece, Vanity Fair, which appeared in monthly parts in 1847–8 and which most clearly reveals his socially satirical edge. The Book of Snobs, which originally appeared as a series in Punch, also attacks Victorian society with vicious wit. Thackeray's later novels include The History of Pendennis, (1848–50); The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. (1852); The Newcomes (1853–5); The Virginians, (1857–9), which is a sequel to Henry Esmond; and The Adventures of Philip (1860–62). He also wrote a series of lectures, The English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century (1853), and numerous reviews, articles and sketches, usually in the comic vein. From 1860 to 1862 he also edited the Cornhill magazine. Thackeray died suddenly on Christmas Eve, 1863.


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