Special Collections Department
Anne Thackeray Ritchie
Biographical Introductions to
The Complete Works of
William Makepeace Thackeray
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
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
William Makepeace Thackeray
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
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
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.
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
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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