Thackeray in the margins

Henry Mackenzie and others, The Mirror: A Periodical Paper (London: printed for A. Strahan and T. Cadell in the Strand…, 1787). Three volumes from the library of William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) with twenty-four pencil drawings by Thackeray in the margins. Graphic Arts GAX 2009- in process

William Thackeray was not only a nineteenth-century writer but also a graphic artist with a talent for caricature. He owned these three volumes of The Mirror and was inspired to make twenty-four small drawings at the ends of chapters and in the margins of stories.

Thanks to the research of Christopher Edwards, we know that the volumes were mentioned in the short catalogue issued by Henry Sotheran in February 1879, as “Relics from the library of the late W.M. Thackeray, comprising books of no great value in themselves, but enriched by numerous characteristic drawings, executed with remarkable skill and taste.” These three small volumes and their marginalia were priced at two pounds, five shillings, one of the higher prices in the catalogue.

Thackeray’s volumes were eventually donated to University of Aberdeen by A.A. Jack (1869-1946), professor of English at the University, but have since been deaccessioned. Happily, they now reside in graphic arts and can be viewed Monday to Friday in our reading room.

See also: William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), Album of sketches and drawings, [183-?], in the Robert H. Taylor collection of English and American literature, Rare Books Manuscripts Collection (MSS) RTC01 (no. 145)