University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


Anne Thackeray Ritchie
Biographical Introductions to
The Complete Works of
William Makepeace Thackeray

1897 - 1899

Manuscript Collection Number: 371
Accessioned: Transferred from printed collection, March 1997
Extent: .3 linear feet (29 items)
Content: Proofs, galleys, and letters.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: July 1998, by Meghan J. Fuller

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Table of Contents


Biographical Notes

William Makepeace Thackeray

One of the most prolific and beloved novelists of the Victorian Era, William Makepeace Thackeray was born in Alipur, India, on July 18, 1811, the only child of Richmond Thackeray, a successful administrator for the East India Company, and his wife, Anne Becher. Thackeray's father passed away four years later, and young William was sent to boarding school in London. Many of his early experiences in India and later in boarding school found their way into several of his popular works, including Vanity Fair and The Newcomes.

After his premature departure from Cambridge University and a half-hearted attempt at law school in 1834, Thackeray moved to Paris to concentrate on his art. While studying there, he met and married Isabella Getkin Creach Shawe (1818-1893). The couple had three daughters, Anne Isabella, Harriet Marrian, and Jane who died at age eighteen months. Soon after her daughter's death, Isabella Thackeray suffered a nervous breakdown from which she never recovered. Thackeray was then left with the responsibility of raising two young daughters and supporting his wife who would remain in various sanitoriums for the rest of her life.

When Thackeray learned that Robert Seymour was unable to finish the illustrations for Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, he immediately volunteered his services. Dickens chose someone else, however, and this decision led Thackeray to turn to his writing for financial support.

Thackeray published many of his early magazine and newspaper pieces under the pseudonym Michael Angelo Titmarsh, or sometimes simply M.A.Titmarsh. He was a regular contributor for Punch from 1842 to 1854. His contributions included both written material as well as drawings and sketches.

Interestingly, the first book-length publication of Thackeray's writing was produced in the United States. In 1838, two Philadelphia publishers, Carey and Hart, published a collection of Thackeray's pieces from Fraser's Magazine under the title of The Yellowplush Correspondence. Other volumes soon followed, including his masterpiece, Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero, which began appearing serially in 1847; The Newcomes: Memoirs of a Respectable Family, which ran from 1853 to 1855, and The Virginians: A Tale of the Last Century, whose twenty-four numbers ran from 1857 to 1859.

Hoping to earn enough money to support his two daughters and his wife in the event of his death, Thackeray made an extensive lecture tour of Europe and the east coast of the United States between 1851 and 1853. The tour proved successful on two accounts: it earned him both financial stability as well as an increased readership.

After an unsuccessful run for a seat in Parliament in 1857, Thackeray turned again to magazine writing and became the editor of the popular Cornhill Magazine. Among its contributors were Alfred Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Washington Irving, Matthew Arnold, Harriet Martineau, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, and Wilkie Collins. Despite the magazine's popularity, he resigned as editor in the spring of 1862 to concentrate on his own writing.

Thackeray died in his sleep on Christmas Eve, 1863. He was fifty-two years old.

Anne Thackeray Ritchie

Though best known as the daughter of one of the greatest novelists of the Victorian Era, Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie was a successful writer in her own right. Born on June 9, 1837 to William Makepeace Thackeray and Isabella Getkin Creach Shawe (1816-1893), Ritchie was the first of three daughters. Following the death of the youngest daughter Jane, Anne's mother lapsed into a state of mental illness from which she never recovered. With her mother in and out of various sanitoriums, Ritchie was left in the care of her father who gave her the kind of liberal education usually reserved for boys.

Ritchie is the author of eight novels, including The Story of Elizabeth (1863), The Village on the Cliff (1867), Old Kensington (1873), Miss Angel (1875), Miss Williamson's Divagations (1881), and Mrs. Dymond (1885). She is perhaps best known, however, for her criticism and memorials of the leading literary figures of her day, including personal memorials of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Edward Ruskin. She is also the author of A Discourse of Modern Sibyls (1913) in which she wrote about her literary predecessors including George Eliot, Currer Bell, and Margaret Oliphant. Her essay, Charles Dickens as I remember Him, is one of her most popular and was eventually published in her 1913 collection, From the Porch.

During her lifetime, Ritchie had the privilege of befriending many of England's most prolific and respected writers. She grew up among her father's friends, including the Carlyles, the Brownings, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Barry Cornwall, and Edward FitzGerald. As an older woman, she witnessed the success of her niece by marriage, Virginia Woolf, and became something of a matriarchal figure for a new generation of writers, including Thomas Hardy, George Meredith, Henry James, Algernon Charles Swinburne, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Sources:

Gerin, Winifred. Anne Thackeray Ritchie: A Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Monsarrat, Ann. An Uneasy Victorian: Thackeray the Man, 1811-1863. London, Cassell, 1980.

Note: Biographical details were also obtained from the collection.


Scope and Content Note

The Works of William Makepeace Thackeray with Biographical Introductions by his Daughter, Anne Ritchie was published in 1899 by Smith, Elder and Co., of 15 Waterloo Place, London. The proofs and galleys of the introductions to each of the thirteen volumes, as well as ten letters related to their publication, comprise the .3 linear feet (29 items) of this collection.

Because her father was opposed to the idea of anyone publishing a biography of his life, Ritchie toyed with the idea for years before it came to fruition. However, after reading a string of uninformed articles and partial biographies written by those who never knew him, she determined to write biographical introductions to an upcoming publication of his complete works.

Taken together, the introductions do not provide a complete biography per se; rather, they focus on his books and the circumstances and events in his life that influenced their conception and publication. In the introductions, Ritchie does share many of her father's letters and journal entries never before published. These personal papers combined with her own memories of William Makepeace Thackeray as a both a writer and a father have made Ritchie's biographical introductions a significant contribution to the field of literature.

Folders one through thirteen of this collection correspond to each of the thirteen volumes in the complete works. The fourteenth folder contains the correspondence between Ritchie and her editors. The letters are arranged chronologically.


Series Outline

F1   Vanity Fair, 1817-1848

F2   Pendennis, 1819-1849

F3   Yellowplush Papers and Hoggarty Diamond, 1831-1837

F4   Barry Lyndon, 1837-1844

F5   Sketchbooks, [n.d.]

F6   Punch, 1840-1849

F7   Esmond and the Lectures, 1851-1853

F8   The Newcomes, [n.d.]

F9   The Christmas Books and Other Pictures, 1847-1855

F10  The Virginians, 1855-1859

F11  The Adventures of Philip, 1859-1862

F12  The Wolves and the Lamb, Lovel the Widower, Roundabout Papers, and Denis Duval, 1860-1863

F13  Miscellanies, [n.d.]

F14  Letters related to the publication of The Complete Works of William Makepeace Thackeray, 
     June 1899-October 1899



Contents List

Folder -- Contents

F1        Vanity Fair, 1817-1848
          Proofs and galleys of the preface and introduction to the first volume of The                          
          Complete Works of William Makepeace Thackeray, which detail Thackeray's         
          childhood experiences which undoubtedly influenced the writing of his 
          masterpiece, Vanity Fair: A Novel Without a Hero; many holograph notations and
          insertions throughout

F2        Pendennis, 1819-1849
          Galleys of the introduction to the second volume which recounts Thackeray's
          teenage years and his eighteen-month tenure at Cambridge as well as the              
          publication and critical reception of The History of Pendennis; galleys dated 
          November 26, 1897; many holograph notations throughout, including two inserts, 
          one sentence typed and one paragraph handwritten

F3        Yellowplush Papers and Hoggarty Diamond, 1831-1837
          Proofs of the introduction to the third volume which traces Thackeray's
          young adulthood from his premature departure from Cambridge to his ultimate
          decision to turn to drawing and writing for his livelihood; includes Ritchie's 
          holograph emendations and insertions throughout

F4        Barry Lyndon, 1837-1844
          Proofs of the introduction to the fourth volume which recounts Ritchie's earliest
          memories of her father when he was writing and drawing for newspapers and 
          magazines to support the family; also describes her mother's sudden illness and
          its effects on the family; with Ritchie's holograph notations throughout

F5        Sketch books, [n.d.]
          Galleys of the introduction to volume 5 which details those years following Mrs.
          Thackeray's removal to a sanitorium during which time Thackeray earned his 
          living publishing sketches under the pseudonym Michael Angelo Titmarsh; minor
          holograph notations
          
F6        Punch, 1840-1849
          Galleys of Ritchie's introduction of volume 6 which focuses on the years during
          which Thackeray was a regular contributor to Punch, publishing both under his      
          own name and his pseudonym, Michael Angelo Titmarsh; holograph notations 
          and insertions throughout

F7        Esmond and the Lectures, 1851-1853
          Galleys of the introduction to the seventh volume which traces Thackeray's
          lecture tours of Europe and the east coast of the United States, during which he 
          wrote The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.: A Colonel in the Service of Her 
          Majesty Queen Anne; includes many extensive holograph notations by the author

F8        The Newcomes, [n.d.]
          Galleys of the introduction to volume 8 which details the history of the writing of 
          The Newcomes: Memoirs of a Most Respectable Family; also includes entries       
          from a notebook kept by Thackeray during this time; dated March 31, 1898;   
          holograph notations throughout

F9        The Christmas Books and Other Pictures, 1847-1855
          Galleys of the introduction to volume 9 which traces the thirty-four year
          friendship of Thackeray and Edward FitzGerald (1829-1963) and includes          
          excerpts and drawings from a scrapbook FitzGerald compiled after the death of   
          his beloved friend; dated October 10, 1898; minor holograph notations; inscribed 
          on title page "kindly see titles to sketches"
               
F10       The Virginians, 1855-1859
          Galleys and a set of proofs of the introduction to volume 10 which details 
          Thackeray's second tour of the United States, his inspiration for The               
          Virginians: A Tale of the Last Century; holograph notations throughout

F11       The Adventures of Philip, 1859-1862
          Two proofs of the introduction to volume 11 which traces the development of          
          Thackeray's novel, The Adventures of Philip, as well as his two-year tenure as       
          editor of The Cornhill Magazine; dated January 12, 1898 and November 1, 1899;
          includes Ritchie's many holograph corrections and inserts

F12       The Wolves and the Lamb, Lovel the Widower, Roundabout Papers, and Denis Duval, 
          1860-1863
          Two sets of proofs of the introduction to the twelfth volume in which Ritchie 
          recounts her memories of the last years of her father's life, including descriptions      
          of his last contributions to The Cornhill Magazine; dated January 2, 1898 and
          February 10, 1898; with holograph corrections and additions throughout
     
F13       Miscellanies, [n.d.]
          Proofs and Galleys of the introduction to the last volume of the complete works in
          which Ritchie writes about the lasting importance of her father's work and shares         
          some of her favorite sketches of his; minor holograph notations  

F14       Letters related to the publication of The Complete Works of William Makepeace 
          Thackeray, June 1899-October 1899
          10 items 34 pp.
          Eight letters sent from The End House, Berkeley Place, Wimbledon by either  
          Anne Thackerary Ritchie or her cousin Emily Ritchie to C.E. Shepheard or W.   
          Peariou, her editors; two letters from Reginald J. Smith of Smith, Elder and Co., 
          the firm responsible for publishing the Complete Works

          Also includes Anne Isabella Ritchie's personalized bookplate and one manuscript    
          page on which Ritchie inscribed "This page escaped from the bonfire being       
          carried off by the wind so I add it to the rest"

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