Уильям Теккерей: биография

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Thackeray and the Brookfields were involved in an increasingly tense emotional triangle. His first trip to America in 1852 provided the time and distance for Thackeray to try and extricate himself from the tangle. Henry Brookfield’s coldness and desire to dominate his wife, her resistance and the need for someone to turn to, and Thackeray’s loneliness combined to create a complicated affair. Brookfield alternately ignored or forbade his wife’s warm communications with the successful novelist. Jane Brookfield returned Thackeray’s ardent expressions of friendship and lamented her husband’s inability to understand her. Thackeray, for his part, professed for Jane a devotion that was pure and he also remained a

companion of her husband. He nonetheless felt betrayed by Jane’s tendency to cool down the correspondence when Brookfield complained. Thackeray eventually caused a dramatic break in the triangle by berating Brookfield for his neglectful treatment of Jane. After Thackeray heard of Jane’s pregnancy, during his second trip to America, he decided never to return to her.

Trip To America

Thackeray tried to find consolation through travel and, lecturing in the United States. He thus followed in Dickens’ footsteps. These lectures were profitable for Thackeray and also provided influential insight on novelists like Jonathan Swift and Laurence Sterne.

Dickens had offended the Americans and did not write a profitable account of his journey. Thackeray, on the other hand, saw America through friendly eyes. In one of his letters to his mother, Thackeray wrote that he did not recognize blacks as equals (though he condemned slavery on moral grounds). He chose to believe that the whipping of slaves in America was rare and that families were not normally separated on the auction block. This was because he was apprehensive about criticism from his hosts that the living conditions for English workers were worse than those for slaves in America.

Thackeray made enduring friendships during his lecture trips to the United States. The most significant of these was the one with the Baxter family of New York. The eldest daughter, Sally Baxter, enchanted the novelist and she became the model for Ethel Newcome, the protagonist of his novel. She was vibrant, intelligent, beautiful and young. He visited her again on his second tour of the States by which time she was married to a South Carolina gentleman.

Through all this, he was continually ill with recurrent kidney infections caused by a bout of syphilis in his youth. In spite of his failing health, Thackeray still managed to have an impressive house built and settled generous dowries on his daughters. After the second profitable lecturing tour on The Four Georges (that is, the Hanoverian kings of the 18th and early 19th centuries), Thackeray stood for parliament elections as an independent candidate. His sense of humor perhaps prevented him from trying too hard for appealing his constituents. When Lord Monck, presiding at one of his rallies, said "May the better man win", Thackeray retorted with a smile, "I hope not !" He knew that the rival candidate, Edward Cardwell would make a much better statesman. Thackeray believed that his advocacy of entertainment on the Sabbath was crucial in his defeat.

Controversy With Charles Dickens

Of the several literary quarrels in which Thackeray got involved during his life, the ‘Garrick Club affair’ is best remembered. Charles Dickens had always been one of Thackeray’s earliest and best friends. But a quarrel had arisen and for several years the two men were not on talking terms. Thackeray had taken offense at some personal remarks in a column by Edmund Yates and demanded an apology, eventually taking the affair to the Garrick Club committee. Dickens was already upset with Thackeray for an indiscreet remark

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