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Thackeray worked as a freelance journalist for about 10 years, publishing literary criticism, art criticism, articles, and fiction, either anonymously or under a number of comic pseudonyms. Often he used absurd pen names such as George Savage Fitzboodle, Michael Angelo Tit Marsh, Theophile Wagstaff and C J Yellowplush, Esq. William and Isabella Thackerays first child, Anne Isabella, was born on June 9, 1837. Her birth was followed by the collapse of The Constitution of which William was the Paris correspondent. Thackeray began writing as many articles as humanly possible and sent them to any newspaper that would print them. This was a precarious sort of existence, which would continue for most of the rest of his life. He was fortunate enough to get two popular series going on in two different publications. During this time, Thackeray also produced his first books, Collections of Essays and Observations published as travel books. This combination of hack writing and frequent travel took Thackeray away from home and kept him from his wifes growing depression.

Troubled Times

Thackeray and Isabella Shawe had a happy life during their first years of marriage. But as financial demands forced Thackeray into more and more work, Isabella became isolated and lonely. The happy years of marriage was eclipsed by the tragic death of their second daughter Jane, born in July 1838. She died of respiratory illness in March the following year. Harriet Marian, their third daughter was born in 1840. It was at this time that Isabella fell victim to mental illness . After a few months she started displaying suicidal tendencies and as it was difficult to control her, she was placed in a private institution. Doctors told Thackeray that all she needed was a change of air. She was taken to her mother in Ireland, where she attempted to drown herself in the ocean. Thackeray began a series of futile searches for her cure. He took Isabella to various spas and sanatoriums, at one point himself undergoing a 'water cure' with her, since she wouldnt go at it alone. He continued to hope for some time that she would make a full recovery. He was forced to send his children to France to his mother. For the next several years he shuttled back and forth between London and Paris - from the journalism that supported himself and his debt-laden family, to his parents and children in Paris, and to his wife in French asylums. Thackeray entrusted Isabella to the care of a friendly family, and threw himself into the maelstrom of club-life for which he had but little taste. He said, "My social activity is but a lifelong effort at forgetting.


Thackerays children returned to England in 1846. He gradually began paying more and more attention to his daughters, for whom he established a home in London. Eventually, he resigned himself to Isabellas condition and was seemingly indifferent to the circumstances around her and the children. He raised his daughters with the help of his mother, who was never satisfied with the governesss Thackeray hired. The touching reminiscences of Anne Thackerays biographical introductions to his works portray him as a loving, if busy, father.

He started the serial publication of his novel Vanity Fair in 1847. It brought Thackeray both fame and prosperity. From then on he was an established author on the English literary scene. Dickens was then at the height of his fame, and, though the two men appreciated each others work, their admirers were fond of debating their comparative merits.

The Brookfields

During these years of success, Thackeray lived the life of a bachelor in London. He spent much time with his friends, attending the social functions of a fashionable society. He became the constant attendant upon Jane Brookfield, the wife of an old friend from Cambridge.

: 4/09/2007