Thackeray by D. J. Taylor
The Life of a Literary Man

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 4 Critic Reviews



Vanity Fair first hit Victorian London in 1847, and the serialized novel established its author, William Makepeace Thackeray, as a serious literary challenge to his popular contemporary Charles Dickens. By then, the thirty-six-year-old Thackeray had survived a difficult Anglo-Indian childhood dominated by the figure of his mother; the loss of the fortune he had made in his early twenties; ten arduous years of hack work; and a disastrous marriage to the beautiful Isabelle Shaw, who went irreversibly mad and left him to parent alone, and in conditions near penury, two small daughters. Success, however, did not end Thackeray's troubles, as this incisive new biography by D. J. Taylor poignantly shows. Drawing on a variety of unpublished and little-known sources, and with a novelist's feel for the intricacies of character and relationships, Taylor explores Thackeray's anguished platonic love affair with the wife of one of his oldest friends, his bitter quarrels with more eminent Victorians, his obsession with earning enough money to maintain his family, and his failure to match the success of Vanity Fair with later novels like Pendennis and The History of Henry Esmond. Taylor's portrait of Thackeray--as doting father, restive son, despairing husband, literary lion, rejected lover, and loyal friend--is complex, and the narrative is compelling.

About D. J. Taylor

See more books from this Author
D. J. Taylor is a novelist, critic, and acclaimed biographer of William Thackeray and George Orwell. His Orwell: The Life won the Whitbread Award in 2003. Married with three children, he lives in Norwich, England.
Published October 10, 2001 by Carroll & Graf Publishers. 494 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Thackeray

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

(Dickens did write a generous testimonial in Cornhill, the monthly that Thackeray edited.) Taylor portrays Thackeray as a gentle giant (he was 6’3”) and as a man who loved his daughters (he shaved a moustache because it frightened them) and who wrote what Taylor considers the finest of all Victor...

| Read Full Review of Thackeray: The Life of a Lite...

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

This new and handsome version of ''Vanity Fair'' - adapted by Alexander Baron, directed by Diarmuid Lawrence and produced by Terrance Dicks - captures enough of the original to inspire a long-overdue Thackeray revival.

Sep 17 1988 | Read Full Review of Thackeray: The Life of a Lite...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

At 24, the age when Dickens established his reputation with Pickwick Papers, "Thackeray could only show," concedes Taylor (Trespass, etc.), a London-based novelist and critic, "a failed career as a newspaper proprietor, a folder full of indifferent sketches and some stray pieces of journalism."

| Read Full Review of Thackeray: The Life of a Lite...

The Bookbag

Taylor presents a very rounded portrait of an often contradictory man who evidently lived life to the full, and whose reputation survives to this day, even if not quite in the first rank of 19th century writers, certainly not far below.

Jul 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Thackeray: The Life of a Lite...

Rate this book!

Add Review