Known for satirical wit which celebrated the English Victorian Age, novelist William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-63) was born on this day in Calcutta, India.
"A good laugh is sunshine in a house," he once said.
Following the death of his father, Thackeray attended school in England and recalled: "I have the same recollection of Greek in youth that I have of castor oil."
As a young man, the six-foot-three inch writer met philosopher Johann von Goethe in Germanyand attended art school in Paris. A journalist and caricaturist, he won fame with the publication of Vanity Fair (1847), "a novel without a hero" that is considered one of the greatest historical novels in the English language.
The colorful and buoyant narrative featured the memorable character Becky Sharp, an amoral social climber who said, "I think I could be a good woman if I had five thousand a year."
Thackery explained that the story showed "that we are for the most part... foolish and selfish people...all eager after vanities." As his contemporary Charles Dickens did with his stories, Thackery published Vanity Fair as a monthly serial.
"To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best," he said. "To endure is greater than to dare. To tire out hostile fortune; to be daunted by no difficulty; to keep heart when all have lost it--who can say this is not greatness?"
Be bold: dare again!