William Makepeace Thackeray, author of the masterpiece Vanity Fair, was justly considered one of the finest writers of the Victorian heyday: Dickens was his closest rival. ‘I do not hesitate to name Thackeray first’ said his most devoted disciple, Anthony Trollope. Thackeray was at his most Thackerayan in what he called ‘small beer chronicles’: the little things in life. His style reached its highest pitch in essays, his cutting wit in journalism.
This ‘sampler’ covers all of Thackeray’s uniquely versatile genius: his sketches, journalism, essays, cartoons, and highpoints of his fiction. Thackeray used his gifts as a satirist to highlight the injustices of his time, pushing for social reform and the abolishment of capital punishment. With explanatory notes by scholar and writer John Sutherland, this varied selection offers a lens into Victorian life by one of its most distinctive voices.
John Sutherland is a British academic, newspaper columnist and author. He is the Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus at University College London. He has been a devoted reader and critic of Thackeray, ever since his tutor, Monica Jones (better known as Philip Larkin’s paramour) encouraged him to read Vanity Fair. His first book was Thackeray at Work, a study of Thackeray’s wonderfully casual creativity. John Sutherland has edited the author’s three major works Vanity Fair, Pendennis, Esmond and his most bitingly satirical minor work, The Snobs of England. John Sutherland has written voluminously on Thackeray for fifty years. ‘Mr Roundabout’ – as he called himself – is a good writer to grow old with.