History

William Makepeace Thackeray

History

On a pillar in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey is a white marble bust, with a brown marble base, to novelist and essayist William Makepeace Thackeray. It is placed near Addison's statue and is by the sculptor Carlo, Baron Marochetti. A petition to the Dean of Westminster for permission to erect a memorial was signed by Charles Dickens and many other authors and artists of the day. The monument was paid for in 1865. The inscription reads:

"WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY born 18 July 1811 died 24 Dec: 1863"

William was born in Calcutta in India, son of Richmond Thackeray and his wife Anne (Becher). After his father's death he returned to England and was educated at Charterhouse School and Trinity College, Cambridge. Unfortunately he gambled away some of his inheritance and started working as a journalist and also studied art. In 1836 he married Isabella Shawe who eventually had to be taken into care for her mental condition. Of their children who reached maturity Anne later became Lady Ritchie and Harriet married Leslie Stephen. In the 1840s he started to make his name as a writer and Vanity Fair established his reputation. He edited the Cornhill Magazine and also wrote for Punch. His other well known works are Pendennis and The Virginians. He is buried in Kensal Green cemetery in London.

A photo of the bust can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading for his family:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004