William Makepeace Thackeray Biography

William Makepeace Thackeray Biography

William Makepeace Thackeray was an English novelist, in the league of Charles Dickens, famous for his satirical works especially, the Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrayal of middle class English society.  His greatest work is the History of Henry Esmond, depicting solid Victorian values of duty and diligence.

Born: July 18, 1811, Kolkata, India
Died: December 24, 1863, London, United Kingdom
Movies: Barry Lyndon, Vanity Fair, Becky Sharp, Pierścień i róża
Children: Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie, Harriet Marian Thackeray, Jane Thackeray
Parents: Richmond Thackeray, Anne Becher

Early Life

William Makepeace Thackeray the only child of Richmond and Anne Becher Thackeray was born in Calcutta India on 18th July 1811.  On his father’s death in 1815, William was sent back to England for his formal schooling.  His education was at Charterhouse and Trinity College, but he left University without a degree.  His earliest writings though appeared in the university publications. He travelled for some time to Europe and returned to England to study Law but soon abandoned this study finding no inclination in him towards the study of law.


At the age of 21, William came into his inheritance, which he squandered, lost his investments and pursued a life of semi-idleness.  He soon married and started writing,to support his growing family. He began work for Fraser’s Magazine, producing art criticisms, short fictional accounts and two serialized novels Catherine and the Luck of Barry London.  He also worked for Punch Magazine where he published The Snob Papers.

In 1840, William Makepeace Thackeray wrote two travel books, The Paris Sketch and The Irish Sketch.  The book that brought him fame was the serialized Vanity Fair.  The next decade and half he gained a reputation as a novelist on par with Dickens.He wrote large novels especially Pendennis, The Newcomes and the History of Henry Esmond.

  • He gave a series of lectures in England on the first four Hanoverian monarchs, which was later published in a book form, titled The Four Georges and The English Humorists of the Eighteenth Century.
  • In 1860 he became the first editor of Cornhill Magazine for which he wrote the Roundabout Papers, Love the Widower, and The Adventures of Philip.
  • William also undertook a series of lecture tours in America.
  • On 23rd December, William Makepeace Thackeray suffered a stroke and died in bed at the age of 52.
  • He was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.
  • A memorial bust sculpted by Marochetti is placed in Westminster Abbey.
  • Thackeray was honored with a monument in the Charterhouse Chapel, after his death.


“To love and win is the best thing.
To love and lose, the next best.”
― William Makepeace Thackeray

“Good humor may be said to be one of the very best articles of dress one can wear in society.”
― William Makepeace Thackeray, Sketches and Travels, Etc.

“Revenge may be wicked, but it’s natural.”
― William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair

“Never lose a chance of saying a kind word.”
― William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair

“Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?”
― William Makepeace Thackeray

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