Classics and Commercials: A Literary Chronicle of the Forties

By Edmund Wilson | Go to book overview

AN OLD FRIEND OF THE FAMILY:
THACKERAY

THE TWO NEW VOLUMES of the Thackeray papers edited by Gordon N. Ray--The Letters and Private Papers of William Makepeace Thackeray--cover the years from the beginning of 1852 to Thackeray's death at the end of 1863, and they include his two trips to America, where he lectured and made a great deal of money; his row with Dickens and Edmund Yates over the publication of the latter's description of him and the expulsion of Yates from the Garrick Club; Thackeray's campaign and defeat as a parliamentary candidate for Oxford; his editorship of the Cornhill Magazine, which gave rise to some curious correspondence between him and his fellow-writers; and his attempts to bring up his two daughters, who had been motherless since his wife went insane and whom he had sometimes, when away on tours, to leave with his own mother--thus precipitating long arguments by letter about the little girls' religious education, in which the strongly anti-fundamentalist Thackeray had to stand up to the formidably pious lady who had sat for Helen Pendennis. There are also some hitherto unpublished comments on the personality and work of Charlotte Brontë, whom Thackeray publicly praised but who seems rather to have nagged him and got under his skin by the challenging and birdlike at

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