Synopses & Reviews
"Vanity Fair" is a story of two heroines--one humble, the other scheming and social-climbing--who meet in boarding school and embark on markedly different lives. Amid the swirl of London's posh ballrooms and affairs of love and war, their fortunes rise and fall. Through it all, Thackeray lampoons the shallow values of his society, reserving the most pointed barbs for the upper crust. What results is a prescient look at the dogged pursuit of wealth and status--and the need for humility. Reprint.
About the Author
WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY was born in India to a long line of Yorkshire gentry recently mixed with equally ancient gentry. In 1817, two years after the death of his father a prosperous official of the East India Company, the boy was sent back to England. There he underwent the proper education of a young gentleman, including rounds of laziness and dissipation at Cambridge, where he made the acquaintance of Tennyson and other notables, and later at the Middle Temple.
He next crossed to Paris, where he studied art and made a love match with Isabella Shawe, whom he married in 1836, overcoming strong maternal resistence. The couple returned to London, where Thackeray embarked on ten years as a journalistic hack-of-all-trades. Meanwhile, two daughters were born and lived, Anne (1837) and Minny (1840), but one, Jane (1838) died after eight months. The serial publication of VANITY FAIR in 1847-48 ended Thackeray's days as a minor journalist and he went on to become the author of miscellaneous satires and reviews, including essays, lectures, and seven novels. After a period of deteriorating health, Thackeray died during the early hours of December 24th, 1863.