The Buried Life: A Study of the Relation between Thackeray's Fiction and His Personal History

The Buried Life: A Study of the Relation between Thackeray's Fiction and His Personal History

The Buried Life: A Study of the Relation between Thackeray's Fiction and His Personal History

The Buried Life: A Study of the Relation between Thackeray's Fiction and His Personal History

Excerpt

The present volume is a by-product of work towards a comprehensive life of Thackeray on which I have been intermittently engaged since 1946. The detailed investigation of Thackeray's family background necessitated by this project led me to an increasing awareness of the extent to which his imaginative life was dependent for sustenance on the persons who figured most intimately in his personal history. When I was invited to speak at the Lowell Institute, I accordingly chose as my topic a consideration of this relationship with particular emphasis on its consequences for Thackeray's fiction. The resulting lectures have been revised and extended since their delivery in February, 1950, particularly in chapters one, five and eight. If chapter five has thereby attained a length disproportionate to its contribution to my principal theme; I must plead in extenuation a desire to put on record the essential information regarding the "original" of Major Pendennis. a gentleman who has not previously figured in Thackerayan chronicles.

Much of what follows has been drawn from unpublished sources. Particularly in chapters two and four, but to some extent throughout the book, I have used manuscript materials in the possession of Mrs. Richard Fuller, Thackeray's granddaughter. In chapter five I have depended chiefly on the Wellesley Papers in the British Museum. Chapter six is based in large part on letters owned by Father Paul Brookfield, Mrs. Brookfield's grandson, and by Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach. Chapter seven is enlivened by anecdotes and other information from the family archives of Mr. Evelyn Carmichael and Mrs. Tempë Monroe, collateral relatives of Major Carmichael-Smyth. I am duly grateful for the use of these varied data.

I must also record certain other obligations. Mr. Ralph Lowell, Trustee of the Lowell Institute, has kindly agreed to the publication of these lectures. My conclusions concerning the autobiographical background of Esmond were recorded in abbreviated form for the British Broadcasting Company's third program during the summer of 1949 and were afterwards published in the Listener. A summary of the same material appears . . .

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